The New Zealand government has extended its new wages subsidy scheme by two weeks to support employees who have been affected by the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.
The wage subsidy scheme, first introduced in June 2020, provides an eight week payment for every employee working at a business that has seen a 40% decline in revenue over a 30 day period.
The scheme, set to expire on 1 September 2020, has been extended due to a spike in cases in the country. The expansion is predicted to save $510 million (£254 million) and cover 470,000 jobs.
Additionally, employees who have been advised to self-isolate due to being in contact with the virus, will receive the equivalent of the wage subsidy payment to cover an employee who is unable to work.
Grant Robertson, New Zealand’s minister of finance, said: “The new wage subsidy will help support cash flow and confidence. Along with the existing wage subsidy extension, which is open until 1 September 2020 for eligible businesses, the Treasury estimates that about 930,000 jobs will be covered by the two schemes.
“We know in New Zealand that the best economic response is a strong health response. We’ve seen the benefits to the economy by going hard and early to get on top of the virus, with activity in June and July running above levels seen last year as the economy reopened after lockdown and business got going again.
“Our focus is on doing everything we can to support our strong public health response. That means removing barriers to a person getting tested, including fears that a positive result would put their employment at risk or that they wouldn’t receive income while they couldn’t work because they had used up their sick leave.”
“At the same time as putting these measures in place to cushion the blow, we are continuing to roll out our comprehensive recovery and rebuild plan around New Zealand by investing in training, creating jobs through infrastructure investment and supporting businesses through the tax system.”