Prime minister Chris Hipkins has asked all businesses and employers to “be responsible” in what they’re asking of their staff.

At a press conference on Tuesday, he was asked whether retail businesses in Auckland and other affected areas should be requiring their staff to make their way to work, given the instruction to avoid non-urgent travel.

BusinessDesk has heard about an employee being told they would need to deduct the day from their annual leave balance after they refused to travel to their Auckland workplace during dangerously high winds whipped up by Cyclone Gabrielle.

Hipkins said he expected managers to be responsible.

“There are some essential businesses that will be asking their staff to come back to work, so they can keep essential supply lines open, food for example. People still need to be able to buy food.

“Those decisions are best made by businesses, but I would just ask businesses to be responsible in the decisions that they’re taking.”

'Front and centre'

Also at the press conference, the prime minister said he has not ruled out committing more money to the recovery efforts for New Zealanders feeling the effects of the cyclone.

He said the government will face the recovery effort “front and centre” over the next few weeks and months.

“We know that this won’t be an overnight recovery. It’s going to take a while. Some people will be displaced from their homes for an extended period of time, and we will need to support them through that.

“Businesses will continue to feel the tail of this for some time and we will need to support them through that as well."

The prime minister said the government’s focus is on the immediate response and it will do what is needed to support NZ.

“We will work that out in the next few days and weeks, how best to do that.”