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North Canterbury Jobs Could be Saved by Changes to Subsidy Scheme

Changes to the Government’s Wage Subsidy Scheme announced today may save some jobs in the face of the COVID-19 lockdown.

The Government has today made modifications to the scheme including:

  • Businesses accessing the scheme must still undertake best endeavours to pay employees 80% of their pre-COVID income. Where that is not possible – in particular where a business has no activity whatsoever due to the shutdown and workers are not working any hours – they must pass on at least the whole value of the wage subsidy to each affected worker.
  • Businesses must undertake to keep employees in employment for the period of the subsidy.
  • We are folding the previous sick leave scheme into this scheme to prevent double-dipping. The original sick leave scheme was designed when few people were in self-isolation, and it is no longer fit for purpose. We are working on arrangements for those in essential work who require sick leave due to COVID-19.

Enterprise North Canterbury Business Support Manager Miles Dalton says the changes are very welcome and could save jobs in the region.

“I know of numerous businesses who are talking about the need to lay of staff because of the COVID-19 lockdown. These changes – that take effect form 4pm today (March 27) could prevent those lay-offs from having to occur.”

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said, ““These modifications are about keeping New Zealanders currently at home in lockdown connected to the job they were in on Wednesday before it started,” Grant Robertson said.

“This ensures businesses not able to operate do not need to lay off staff. Even if this requires businesses to operate with no activity, the subsidy allows them to keep their workers on the books, particularly during Alert Level 4.”

The Government has estimated the financial cost of the scheme to be between $8billion and $12billion depending on the uptake.

To read the full press release from the beehive visit: https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/covid-19-further-steps-protect-new-zealanders%E2%80%99-jobs

To find out more about the wage subsidy scheme and how to apply visit: https://workandincome.govt.nz/products/a-z-benefits/covid-19-support.html

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