Some employers are forcing staff to use sick or annual leave to cover them as the country goes into level 4 emergency alert and isolation period.
The Council of Trade Unions says it has also had reports of some employers not acting in good faith when accessing wage subsidies provided by the Government due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
Unite Union yesterday slammed Domino's for wanting to remain open and sell pizza during the lockdown.
"If pizza is essential, there's not much that isn't essential," Unite Union national secretary Gerard Hehir said.
"What they are proposing is socially irresponsible, a danger to workers and undermines the lockdown."
CTU president Richard Wagstaff said after meeting with affiliates last night, they'd reported employers were unlawfully trying to take advantage of the Covid-19 situation.
"Affiliates are reporting a wide range of bad behaviour from some employers. Including employers compelling staff to use sick leave or annual leave to cover the level 4 isolation period.
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"This not only breaches MBIE advice but is also in violation of the law, such decisions about annual leave need to be made in consultation. Sick leave must only be used when someone, or their dependant, is sick."
He said some employers were trying to "dictate this is the way it's going to be".
There were also concerns that some employers may take the opportunity to alter employment agreements and contracts.
"We understand that those kind of people are considering those kinds of opportunities to make things harder. We're hearing about workers also being asked to change their employment agreements in these times and might end up making permanent changes to their agreement for a temporary situation.
"We don't want that to happen. We're just implementing measures to get through this and then get back to normal afterwards."
He said many workers didn't have the protection of a union which did leave them vulnerable.
Employers were expected to, with best endeavours, pay 80 per cent of that person's salary/wages for 80 per cent work.
"Employers who are taking taxpayers' money in a time of crisis have a moral obligation to not then use it to line their own pockets.
"Employers must focus on playing their part - they must demonstrate a greater level of compassion and they certainly must adhere to the law."
He was also shocked that some businesses were declaring themselves an essential service, as opposed to it coming from the Government.
"It is also shocking that some employers are behaving opportunistically and self-proclaiming their business as an essential service. This type of behaviour makes a mockery of the serious situation we face."
However, he said the majority of employers had been acting in good faith, despite the poor actions of a minority.
As for what employees should do, Wagstaff urged them to head to the MBIE website which would give them the most up-to-date information.
"If there are employers forcing people to take leave to make up their 80 per cent, that's unlawful. MBIE wouldn't be happy to hear that ... they need to tell their employer that they're not acting lawfully."
As for what the union was doing, he said they were "definitely" pushing back on employers trying to pull the wool over employee's eyes.
"We're not everywhere, but really this is a warning bell to all employers thinking of taking this as an opportunity. It's not, and we certainly will be calling them out if we see this behaviour escalate."
The Herald has been made aware of one employee who has been told she has to use her annual and sick leave during the lockdown.
"[My] employer has sent out an email telling his staff that he's invoking the Force Majeure Clause in our employment agreements, so I'm not getting paid after this week except for holiday pay being paid out," the woman wrote.
"I have to admit, I don't understand his reasoning. We've basically been given the choice of using our holiday pay, until that runs out, and then going without, or taking voluntary redundancy. I suppose he presumes he'll have no problems hiring new staff when this all blows over."