Throughout the COVID-19 lockdown, we’ve been busy providing individuals and businesses with legal advice and support. Some of it is the usual, but most relates in some way to COVID-19 and the law.
In particular, there are a lot of issues Christchurch businesses will need to consider about COVID-19 and its impacts. Here are some of the things we’re bringing to the attention of our clients.
COVID-19 Economic Package
The Government has released a variety of economic responses to the lockdown, with more on the way.
The most significant measure is the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme, which helps employers and employees of businesses affected by COVID-19. Many businesses have already applied for and received the subsidy, which is paid out as a lump sum to cover a 12-week period.
But it’s vital that employers use the subsidy correctly. If you’re not sure how to apply for the subsidy or ensure you administer it correctly, please get in touch. We’re closely familiar with how the scheme works and how it applies to different businesses.
COVID-19 Wage Subsidy for Self-Employed and Contractors
The Wage Subsidy is also available to self-employed people and contractors. Do make sure you’ve applied if you think COVID-19 has affected your income. We can provide you advice about your eligibility and the application process.
ChristchurchNZ Business Support Subsidy for COVID-19
As the first phase of its Economic Recovery Package, ChristchurchNZ is offering a Business Support Subsidy for small to medium sized businesses. This consists of up to a $1000 subsidy to access professional advice about dealing with the economic and resourcing impacts of COVID-19. There is also a full grant of up to $5000 for these services available via funding to the Regional Business Partners Network. The first step in accessing either fund is to register for the Regional Business Partners Network.
Christchurch City Council Rates Payments Deferral for COVID-19
Recognising the financial stress many individuals and businesses are facing, the Christchurch City Council is offering a six month extension on payments for 2019/2020 Rates Instalment 4. The extension is for both business properties and residential properties, subject to meeting certain criteria. Find out more about applying for the extension at the City Council website.
Business Banking Support for COVID-19
All major banks are offering some kind of support or relief for businesses facing financial stress due to COVID-19.
The Government’s Business Finance Guarantee Scheme offers small and medium-sized businesses targeted new loans. These are of up to $500,000, for up to three years, for businesses with annual revenue between $250,000 and $80 million. These are still subject to banks’ individual lending processes.
Individual banks are also offering repayment relief for credit card debt and loans, and temporary credit lines and overdrafts. The ways each bank approaches these will differ, so it’s best to arrange a conversation with them. We’ll be available to help with advice or support through the process.
Companies Act Changes Due to COVID-19
The Government has announced planned temporary changes to the Companies Act intended to help businesses affected by COVID-19. Per their summary, the changes include:
- Giving directors of companies facing significant liquidity problems because of COVID-19 a ‘safe harbour’ from insolvency duties under the Companies Act,
- enabling businesses affected by COVID-19 to place existing debts into hibernation until they are able to start trading normally again,
- allowing the use of electronic signatures where necessary due to COVID-19 restrictions,
- giving the Registrar of Companies the power to temporarily extend deadlines imposed on companies, incorporated societies, charitable trusts and other entities under legislation, and
- giving temporary relief for entities that are unable to comply with requirements in their constitutions or rules because of COVID-19.
While the legislation can’t be passed until Parliament sits again, which is likely to be April 28, the changes will apply with retroactive effect.
If you have pressing concerns about your business during COVID-19, please get in touch. We can advise you on these changes and other arrangements that might be beneficial to you.
Electronic Business Contracts
While it’s not possible for us to witness documents in person, we are able to assist with electronic signing and witnessing. Find out more about affidavits, declarations and contracts here.