Member Advisory

COVID-19 Update 26 March - DAY ONE  

March 26, 2020


To: All Members of Federated Farmers
This is our first Member Advisory under lockdown.

Each day we will update you on any matters that have arisen and new information that comes to light.

Authorising letter for employees and contractors travelling to/from your farm

We strongly advise that you supply all your employees, and contractors such as sharemilkers, contract milkers and other independent contractors working for you, with a letter for them to carry with them when travelling to and from your farm.
They need to also ensure they have their driver’s licence on them. This will minimise disruption to their travel if stopped by the NZ Police. 

Clearly these people should only be coming to work for essential work. Click this link, and download the pdf entitled ''Essential Services Employee Movement Declaration'' for a letter template you can use.

Employment and Health and Safety obligations

We have provided Health and Safety information on our Coronavirus webpage. This information includes a summary of your employment and health and safety responsibilities, and an employment FAQ, in separate fact sheets. You need to ensure you meet both your employment and health and safety obligations, including to mitigate health and safety risks and protect workers from them, so far as is reasonably practicable.

An important component of this is to develop a plan with your employees for likely scenarios in respect of COVID-19 in your workplace. Access the information here, and download the template called "Memorandum of Understanding under Alert 4".

Extension of work visas

Federated Farmers and Dairy NZ last week wrote to the Minister of Immigration to ask the government to consider, as part of the response to COVID-19, extending the timeframe of temporary visas for those migrants already working in New Zealand. The government has agreed to this. For a summary of these changes please go here.

Financial and tax support package

An update on the tax, wage and business support available and how this may relate to you is on the Federated Farmers webpage here, (click the pdf 'Covid Support Package').

Certificate of Fitness (COF) for essential heavy vehicles

VTNZ stations will be open for essential service vehicle only. Availability will be strictly limited so if it isn’t urgent leave the vehicle in the shed or only use it on farm.

VTNZ is required to ensure the safety of essential service vehicles only during the lockdown. A reduced inspection network will do WoF and CoF inspections and heavy certification for essential service vehicles only.

If you need to get a WoF or CoF during the shutdown, please go to this website link to see what branches are open and what VTNZ requires of you if you need to get a CoF.

If you have trouble paying tax

Inland Revenue is there to help and has advised:

If your business is unable to pay its taxes on time due to the impact of COVID-19, we understand, you don’t need to contact us right now. Get in touch with us when you can, and we’ll write-off any penalties and interest. It would help if you continue to file however, as the information is used to make correct payments to people, and to help the Government continue respond to what is happening in the economy.

See here:

Tax and your Business

On 25 March Parliament passed a couple of COVID-19 Bills that made changes to a number of Acts, including the Income Tax Act, to implement the Government’s economic policy response to the pandemic.

Main changes include:
  • Restoring building depreciation.
  • Increasing the provisional tax threshold to remove smaller businesses from the tax provisional tax regime.
  • Allowing immediate low-value asset write offs for more assets.
  • Bringing forward broader R&D refundability.
  • Allowing use of money interest to be waived.
  • Allowing greater information sharing with a wider group of government agencies to assist the efficient and effective delivery of the Government’s COVID-19 response; and
  • Allowing wider access to the in-work tax credit.
For more information on these changes please click here.

To find out how any of these changes might apply to your business please talk to your accountant.

Updated Financial Support Package

On 17 March the Government announced a $12.1 billion rescue package including:
  • A wage subsidy for all coronavirus-impacted businesses,
  • Raising benefits and doubling the Winter Energy Payment
  • Tax changes (as above) and boost to health, aviation etc
For information, click here.

On 23 March 2020 the Government moved further by dropping the $150,000 maximum a business could claim from the wage subsidy, making it eligible for all businesses, large and small. This included a freeze on all rent increases and to look to extend no-cause terminations to protect people during this difficult time.

For more information see here.

Financial and tax support package

An update on the tax, wage and business support available and how this may relate to you is on the Federated Farmers webpage here. (Click the pdf 'Covid Support Package').


Gavin Forrest
GM Policy & Advocacy
Federated Farmers of NZ