The Court of Appeal recently overturned the Employment Court’s decision in this case (Sandhu v Gate Gourmet  NZCA 591).
The key outcome is that during the first COVID 19 lockdown in March 2020, Gate’s workers had to be paid at least the minimum wage for the hours they had agreed to work but did not actually work due to the company’s direction, as opposed to the requirements of the lockdown itself. The case was decided on a narrow point related to the Minimum Wage Act 1983.
While the Court of Appeal’s decision may on first view be cause for concern for employers who paid 80% of wages during earlier lockdowns, this won’t necessarily be the case. The decision does not affect the pay of employees who could not work at all during lockdowns due to the requirements of the lockdown – those employees were not “able” to work as part of the “ready, willing and able” test. It also doesn’t affect the pay of those who agreed to receive 80% of wages but remained above the minimum wage at all times.