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Source: Reserve Bank of New Zealand

Release date

24 April 2020

Under Level 3, financial services businesses and staff who can operate from home must continue to do so. Workplaces may be reopened if the work cannot be done from home and the workplace can operate consistently within public health guidance and ensure the appropriate protections for staff and where applicable customers. If you are unsure about what activities you can undertake, please contact the FMA or RBNZ.

We recognise that many Financial Services businesses have been able to operate at Level 4 and may already have these measures in place. For both workplaces which will continue to operate and those who are looking to reopen part of their business in Level 3 – operating in the current environment carries great responsibility to ensure the health and safety of staff and customers. The expectations of customers, the community, staff, and regulators is that workplaces will meet the highest possible standards and that managers, supervisors, and individual staff actively manage adherence to the safety measures and expectations. We expect all staff to demonstrate leadership and appropriate self-supervision to ensure that these standards are met and that they are looking out for the health and safety of their colleagues and community while at work.

Businesses must not see the move from Level 4 to Level 3 as an opportunity to restart workplaces as quickly as possible and in an unsafe fashion.

Workplaces must engage with employees (as individuals or representatives) in any decision making for changes to work practices. We want everyone to feel confident and safe when returning to work, and be confident that if they can continue to work from home they are able to. Any staff consultation and/or feedback should be an ongoing process so that workplaces are able to improve practices and learn lessons to continuously improve management and safety.

The following guidance has been provided together with WorkSafe for the Financial Services sector and must be applied for any business which requires physical presence of staff at the workplace during Level 3:

  • Workplaces must significantly reduce staff numbers on premise with physical distancing (min. two metres) between all on-site staff
  • Workplaces which interact with other businesses must communicate ahead of time to establish a clear understanding of responsibility and overlap.
  • Workplaces must take practical hygiene steps to avoid the spread of the virus. E.g. ensuring only essential work is done; supplying soap and water or hand sanitiser to ensure workers can frequently wash their hands; splitting meal breaks to reduce the number of people using a kitchen; ensuring only one worker at a time in bathroom
  • Workplaces must hold centralised records of any staff working together
  • Workplaces must take centralised contract tracing measures (i.e. sign-in and sign-out procedures for customers and staff, recording interactions and floor access)
  • Workplaces must enact controlled entry procedures (i.e. security guards at the entrance, appointment only, pre-screening remotely) to manage customer numbers
  • Staff are not to attend workplace if they have any symptoms of feeling unwell or are being tested for COVID-19
  • Staff are not to attend workplace if they have been in close contact with anyone who is displaying respiratory symptoms, being tested for COVID-19, or has a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19
  • Staff are not to attend workplace if they, or someone they come into close contact with, are considered ‘higher risk’ of becoming severely ill from COVID 19 (Ministry of Health – most at risk)
  • Interaction with customers should be via remote means wherever possible. Face to face customer interaction continue to be permitted only for essential financial services (as at Alert Level 4). Within this category, the following guidance applies:
  • Over-the-counter (OTC) transactions to be completed at distances of over one metre and only if increased hygiene in these areas can be ensured (i.e. hand sanitiser, Perspex screens, increased cleaning etc.).
  • For transactions which require face-to-face engagement but cannot take place OTC – we expect these to only be completed when equivalent safety precautions as OTC transactions can be followed

Businesses are obliged to eliminate transmission risks where possible, and where not, to substitute work practices or provide as higher level of control as possible. We expect that businesses maintain, or create new, practices that meet or exceed the MoH guidelines as they are updated.

If a workplace reopens, it must create a formal plan which details how they are keeping people safe at Level 3 and dealing with COVID related risks.. Businesses do not have to present these plans in order to operate, but will be expected to produce it when requested by WorkSafe, who will be conducting checks across New Zealand and all sectors. Further information, guidance and a template for these plans is available at WorkSafe. If you are already operating at Level 4, and have a formal plan in place, we ask that you review these against Level 3 guidance.

This guidance is to ensure the health and safety of staff, customers, and all New Zealanders and is in line with Ministry of Health expectations. This guidance has been sent to WorkSafe for endorsement, and this process is still under way. The guidance presented here may require further updates as a result of the WorkSafe endorsement process.

MIL OSI