It’s a difficult time for New Zealand at the moment, especially for those in workplaces that are affected by the ever-changing circumstances that the COVID-19 pandemic is causing. Here at FMCG Business, we want to help staff as much as we can with a few tips and resources.

Government assistance

Restaurants, bars, take-away shops and other ‘’non-essential businesses’’ have been forced to close by order of the Government. Exactly what this means for your immediate income will vary depending on your situation and workplace, but regardless, it’s a good idea to think about the support package provided by the Government.

In recent days, the Government has announced that all businesses, contractors and self-employed people are now eligible for the Government’s COVID-19 wage subsidies package and the $150,000 cap has been lifted. If you haven’t already applied, go to www.covid19.govt.nz for information about how to check if you’re eligible and what payment will apply to you. During Alert Level 4, any entity involved in COVID-19 response will still be working, to ensure you are supported.

Finding other work

Although no one can predict what will happen next, ‘essential services’ will remain operational throughout the pandemic (including the Level 4 Alert). And while these jobs are limited, there have been recent calls for more staff in some fields.

Supermarkets are one of the biggest overwhelmed areas, as people continue to clear shelves and stock up. Some stores may be looking for temporary staff to help with restocking shelves, as well as security and logistics around highly sought-after staples like toilet paper, pasta and rice. The rest of the supply chain to get to supermarkets too has been said to be looking for help, from harvesting crops in regional and rural locations, to picking and packing, freight and logistics along the way.

There’s also the option to do a few small online things to make a little more cash. You can be paid to do online surveys, test apps, try software, or do odd virtual jobs.

Try checking out job sites like Seek and LinkedIn, as well as looking on social media for any call outs. You could also try reaching out to a company directly to see how you could help them. Googling around for online odd jobs is also an idea, just be sure to check the site is credible and secure before giving them your details.

Starting conversations about bills

Rent or mortgage and utilities are areas that will cause some of the most financial issues if you find yourself out of work. Although each situation with different landlords, real estates, providers and lenders are different, it is recommended that you start a conversation if you need help and go from there.

For example, some lenders may offer ‘mortgage repayment holidays’ or paused credit card repayments. These types of measures would extend your loan timeline and potentially add further interest to your loan or card, but could keep you afloat for the time being. Contact your provider and see what they have available, many of them will have FAQs of options on their websites about COVID-19.

In terms of rent, the Government has announced a freeze of any rent increases and have made it more difficult for landlords to evict tenants. Visit www.tenancy.govt.nz for more information.

Regarding utility bills, try contacting your supplier and asking for a payment plan, or some way they can help you if you’re in financial trouble. Again, losing a customer means less profit for them, so they should have some options available. You can check your provider’s website, or call and ask to speak to a hardship specialist.

Protecting your health

It’s been said so many times before, but remember to use good hygiene, wash your hands, cover your coughs and sneezes, and stay inside.

Your mental health is also important. When you’re looking out for your physical health, make sure to also look out for your mind, and try to stay connected with family, friends and colleagues at least on a virtual level.

Losing even some employment means losing a part of your usual social interactions, and especially with the distancing guidelines being recommended, it’s hard to not feel completely isolated.  Proactively calling or messaging people can be a great start, but in the age of social media, there is also much more at your fingertips.

Join Facebook groups in the industry or your interests, there’s one for almost anything you can think of. This industry already has one of the best communities there is, so be sure to tap into that on a virtual level. Let’s all look out for each other.

COVID-19 INFO AND ADVICE

If you are feeling unwell and suspect you have contracted COVID-19, phone Healthline’s dedicated COVID-19 number 0800 358 5453.

For more information and resources for your business check the following websites.

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