A million workers supported by government wage subsidy

3 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineApril 8, 2020

The Government‘s wage subsidy to protect jobs and keep workers and businesses connected during the lockdown has now supported over a million New Zealanders, with $6.6 billion already paid out.

“We‘re supporting businesses to pay wages, and stay connected with their workers so that we are all in a better position to kick-start the economy on the other side,” Finance Minister Grant Robertson said.

“This helps make sure people have what they need during this lockdown to stay home, break the chain and save lives. The best way to support the economy is to fight this virus.”

The million-worker milestone was reached following $1.25 billion of payments on 6 April, taking the total paid out to $6.6 billion.

This is supporting the wages of 1,073,129 workers, comprised of 914,931 employees and 158,198 sole traders. This represents 41% of the New Zealand workforce. In total, 305,363 applications from businesses, the self-employed and sole traders have been approved.

“We moved early to get money out the door to protect jobs and support New Zealanders through the lockdown. We won’t be able to save every job and every business, but we are making sure people have the underlying support they need to get through this,” Robertson said.

Minister of Social Development Carmel Sepuloni said MSD staff are getting the payments out to support workers and businesses at an unprecedented pace. MSD has brought in more frontline staff to take on the workload.

“In a number of countries, similar schemes aren‘t paying out yet. We‘ve moved fast and early, supported by a dedicated team at MSD.

“We continue to ask people to remain patient, and know that staff are working as hard as they can to process applications,” Sepuloni said.

The Treasury estimates the 12-week scheme will pay out between $8 billion and $12 billion. For each full-time worker, businesses receive a lump-sum payment of $7029.60, and for each part-time worker $4200. The full value of the subsidy has to be passed on to employees, unless their normal wages are below the subsidy, in which case the employee must be paid at least their normal wages.