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Under fire from staff: Queenstown's new 'entertainment destination', Kingpin

By PHILIP CHANDLER

An employee of Queenstown’s new Kingpin business alleges they’re not claiming government support for staff isolating at home because of Covid — the Aussie entertainment giant, however, says it’s ‘‘working retrospectively’’ to support them.

The 19-year-old, who doesn’t want to be identified, says for several weeks now, self-solating workers haven’t been getting any financial support, despite a government support scheme.

However, she says, the scheme can only be accessed by their employer.

‘‘Everyone’s really upset, really angry,’’ says the employee, who claims staff have been onto their bosses about it, and even the Ministry of Health’s contacted Kingpin.

‘‘It’s not their money, that’s why I’m confused about it — the government gives them the money but they need to sign the forms for them to get it.’’

She says their bosses’ argument is always ‘HR is sorting it out’ — ‘‘but they’ve been ‘sorting it out’ for, like, four or five weeks now’’.

The employee — who works up to 35 hours on a casual contract — says it’s been very stressful for staff like herself who’ve ‘‘played by the rules’’ and isolated for up to 10 days and even longer for one colleague who’s been a close contact twice.

‘‘It’s been so stressful just knowing you have to be stuck inside, you can’t work, you don’t know when you’re getting paid, and then wanting to get back out as soon as
you can ’cos you need the money.’’

Not to mention the stress, she says, of waiting to find out whether you’ve got Covid.

The employee says, with out support, which she believes amounts to about $600 for every week they have off, staff are getting behind on their rental payments and the like.

It’s extra tough, she adds, for staff who are young, mostly on minimum wage and who, in many cases, have shifted here from out of town.

She also says the situation’s getting worse with more and more staff succumbing to  Covid over the past week — eight tested positive on Monday, she understands.

Asked for comment, Kingpin chief operations officer Belinda Falzon says TEEG NZ, Kingpin’s owner, will be ‘‘working retrospectively to reinstate leave balances for team members who have been asked to self-isolate and meet the short-term absence
payment and the Covid-19 leave support scheme eligibility criteria’’.

‘‘Any paid leave taken by our team as a result of a requirement to self-isolate has been paid by TEEG to date.’’

Falzon explains, to meet Work and Income NZ obligations in relation to claiming leave support payments, ‘‘we must first ensure we have detailed processes in place that enable us to ensure the data and documentation we collect is accurate and true, prior to lodgement’’.

Since becoming aware of the scheme, they’ve been working to develop new, easy-to-understand internal processes so their team is ‘‘clear on what needs to be done to  support the application’’.

That includes new payroll codes to separate ‘‘isolation from standard leave’’, obtaining evidence from staff to support a ‘‘legal direction to isolate’’, and consent from eligible staff to use their information as part of the application, she says.

‘‘Not only this, but we are working to provide detailed communications to teams on what the scheme is, and what they need to do.’’

scoop@scene.co.nz