19 Jun 2009

Employer group seek answers on swine flu wages bill

7:58 am on 19 June 2009

An organisation representing employers says it has sent a letter to the Government asking it to clarify who wwill pay workers put into isloation because of swine flu.

Northern Employers and Manufacturers Association chief executive Alasdair Thompson said on Wednesday that it was unclear what should happen when businesses had to send healthy workers home.

Mr Thompson said the Government needed to decide what should happen because it is a national public health matter.

He believes employers are not obliged to pay healthy workers if they are put into isolation, but workers who are sick should get sick leave.

'No business unaffected'

Earlier, Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce chief executive Peter Townsend said no business in New Zealand would avoid the impact of the swine flu outbreak.

Mr Townsend's warning comes after Christchurch factory Sea Products Ltd closed on Tuesday to help prevent the spread of the virus.

The company has stopped production for three days after two workers caught swine flu. The factory's 100 workers have been given Tamiflu and told to return to work on Friday unless contacted.

Mr Townsend said the virus could not have come at a worse time, with the economy already battling the recession.

He doubts any business will escape unharmed and predicts the hospitality industry will experience a sharp downturn as people avoid going out and staff sick leave rises.