Restaurant Association of New Zealand

Christchurch Earthquake Information

The advice here is designed to help our members make good, safe, sensible and practical decisions in this difficult time.

Please be aware that Health and Safety is paramount at this point -don’t rush in. Stand back and make a sensible, safe plan for re-opening your workplace. Here’s a basic checklist of things you should consider before you open your workplace door:

If you don’t have the expertise to check these things in-house, get an expert in to assist you

  •  Check for basic building structural stability

- Note: The City Council will be classifying all buildings in the cordoned-off area  – red placards for no entry, yellow for restricted use and green for no restrictions on a building’s us

- Check for basic sanitation, eg running contamination free water

- Check that toilets are working

- Check that emergency egress and support equipment hasn’t been compromise

  • Check for live electrical cables, or gas leaks
  • Check the integrity of the water and sewage lines
  • Check for unstable stock, equipment or machinery inside the building
  • Check for chemical spills
  •  Check security issues – refer to the NZ Police or your security firm if you have concerns.
  •  A full hazard identification should be made and plans to eliminate, isolate and minimise where practicable.
  •  Remember it is quite likely there are new and unusual hazards in your place of work that didn’t exist prior to the earthquake. Your current hazard register should be considered inadequate.
  • Recognise that the RIGHT DECISION is the SAFE DECISION
  • Make yourself aware of any requirements of the authorities (Civil Defence, regional and local authorities etc) and act in accordance with those requirement
  •  As a business owner or manager, the Health and Safety in Employment Act requires you to provide a safe workplace for your employees, contractors you might engage and others who might be entering your premises, eg shoppers
  • Employees also have a responsibility to ensure their own safety



  • The key is communication. This is an unusual situation, and much of it is probably not covered by employment agreements. It is very important that employers and employees are talking to each other.
  • Be flexible. This is a time for employers and employees to be understanding and to take a commonsense approach to getting business up and running again.
  • If employees are concerned about their safety in going back to work, they should raise their concerns with their employer.
  •  If employers are asking employees to do work they don’t normally do (for example, clean-up work), both sides need to ensure they’re comfortable with this, and safety must be top priority
  • People may want to focus on family rather than work
  • Working with staff health and safety representatives and union representatives will be of assistance in some work places
  • Work together to find practical solutions
  •  Recognise that this has been a significant event

- People will react differently in the aftermath- some may need extra support

- Many will want to focus on caring for their family

- Others will be best supported by assisting to get things up and running

  •  An individual employee has the right to refuse to do work they consider unsafe. Discuss the work and the concerns before it gets to this point. If you have decided it is safe share your knowledge and reasoning with staff alongside the decision



Who decides if workers have to go to work if it is open?

Employers and employees should talk to each other about what is happening with the workplace. Discuss and reach an appropriate agreement.

If a staff member needs to stay home to look after their family – how does that work?

Both parties should take a practical approach to this situation. Employers should discuss the employee’s needs in these circumstances, recognising the unique nature of the event, the disruption it has caused and the need for flexibility.

Whose responsibility is it to ensure the workplace is safe?

This is the responsibility of the employer under the Health and Safety in Employment Act. The employer may need to obtain expert information to ensure safety and /or reassure employees of workplace safety.

My building has been condemned and the business is finished how do I deal with my staff?

This situation makes it impossible for employment agreements to be performed by either party and the effect is that the employment and employment agreements terminate. However you need to advise staff as soon as practicable. Final pays and any accrued holiday pay will need to be paid just as it would be when employment ends.

If any of your staff are in financial hardship as a result then they should contact Work and Income. (Income support, Contracts and mortgage repayments)


What if it is a usual day of work for my employees and the business is closed. Do I pay employees? My employee can’t get into work today for good reason. Should I pay them?

The answer to these (and similar questions) will depend on the employment agreement in place. If the employment agreement is clear about what to do, you should be guided by your agreement. The Restaurant Associations Standard Employment Agreement is silent on these circumstances, so it is important to discuss and communicate what will happen with your staff.

Employers and employees should discuss how to reach a pragmatic and legal outcome. An alternative approach may be for employers and employees to discuss leave entitlements to cover any absences from work to ensure continuity of income for employees.

Does an employer have the right to require workers to go to work and help with clean up?

This is an area for discussion on practical solutions. Employers want their businesses up and running to provide service to customers, and to be able to pay their employees. If employees are concerned about doing this work, they should discuss it with the employer and if they are being asked to work they don’t normally do, there should be a discussion about the employee’s capability to do the work, and about supervision, and, especially, what protective gear employees will be provided with. The primary concern at all times should be individual safety.

What safety gear should be used in clean up?

The primary concern at all times should be individual safety. This means that appropriate protective clothing and equipment should be used when required. At a minimum, this would generally include heavy shoes/boots, a helmet and safety glasses and a protective jacket and trousers if required

How should concern about gas or chemicals in the workplace be dealt with?

Evacuate immediately and ensure the relevant authorities are informed. The primary concern at all times should be individual safety.

This information has been compiled with the help of the Department of Labour.



The main concerns are around continuity of business and employment responsibilities, as well as insurance claims and advice. We have set up a help line with our insurance partners, Crombie Lockwood, to offer advice and claims processing information for affected members - regardless of insurance affiliation.


INSURANCE ADVICE: Clinton Stanger 027 424 2993

Our own HELPLINE: 0800 737 827, is also available. We'd love to hear from you regardless of your situation please do not hesitate to call the helpline or alternatively Steve Mackenzie, our CEO can be contacted on 09 632 1400 - 24/7






The New Zealand Red Cross 2011 Earthquake Commission will offer an Emergency and Hardship Grant for people living in their homes without power or water or sewerage, or people forced to leave their home because of damage or because they have no water or power or sewerage. Apply online at www.redcross.org.nz or phone 0800 754 726.



Food safety in the Christchurch Earthquake CLICK HERE


APRA (Australasian Performing Right Association)

Notice to Christchurch Clients affected by the earthquake. In response to the natural disaster that has affected Christchurch & surrounding areas on the 22nd February 2011, APRA has placed all licences in the region on hold until further information on the full extent of this disaster can be obtained

We understand that many will not be operational for some time. Safety and personal care are the appropriate priority and our thoughts are with everyone affected in Christchurch at this moment.

For further information please contact APRA|AMCOS toll free on 0800 69 2772 or licencenz@apra.co.nz



For Network updates the best source of the latest information is the Telecom website - http://www.telecom.co.nz/help/alerts

  •  Telecom payphones in the Christchurch are now free for local, national and mobile calls
  • Customers who can't get home or to work can call us on 120 for residential customers or 125 for business customers and get their Telecom landline diverted to another number for free.
  • WiFi Hotspots – WiFi sites at Telecom Riccarton Mall, Café Zero (Cashmere Rd), and the Westpac Centre (Addington) are free of charge.
  • Customers with friends or family with a prepay mobile can call 0800 32 32 32 and top up their Prepaid credit on their behalf.
  • All customers in the Christchurch area can call 018 from a landline or payphone for free.

Further information can be found at http://www.telecom.co.nz/earthquake




In addition,we are running a campaign to collect old analogue phones that we can forward to affected areas in Christchurch - Click Here for details