WORLD New Zealand's new wage subsidy to protect jobs, businesses amid 2nd COVID-19 lockdown

WORLD

New Zealand's new wage subsidy to protect jobs, businesses amid 2nd COVID-19 lockdown

Xinhua

15:00, August 17, 2020

WELLINGTON, Aug. 17 (Xinhua) -- New Zealand workers whose jobs may be affected by the re-emergence of COVID-19 in Auckland, New Zealand's largest city, will be supported by a new wage subsidy scheme and a simplified leave scheme.

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Shoppers queue outside a supermarket in the suburb of Devonport in Auckland on August 12, 2020. (Photo: AFP)

The government set out the criteria for a new nationwide wage subsidy on Monday covering the period that Auckland is at COVID-19 Alert Level 3. It has also removed the revenue-drop test for the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme.

Under Level 3, businesses are required to implement COVID-19 safety measures, and most people are encouraged to work from home and school children learn from home.

"The government is again moving quickly to cushion the blow for businesses and workers," Finance Minister Grant Robertson told a press conference.

"The new wage subsidy will help support cash flow and confidence," Robertson said, adding along with the existing wage subsidy extension - which is open until Sept. 1 for eligible businesses - the Treasury estimates that about 930,000 jobs will be covered by the two schemes.

"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 the first lockdown between late-March and mid-May and business got going again, he said.

The COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme means businesses with workers who have been told by health officials or their medical practitioner to self-isolate will receive the equivalent of the wage subsidy to help cover that person's wages for the time they cannot be at work, he added.

"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," Robertson said.

The mortgage deferral scheme is also being extended from its current end-date of Sept. 27 to March 31, 2021. Further details will be made available by the Reserve Bank and the retail banks, the minister said.

At the same time as putting these measures in place to cushion the blow, New Zealand is continuing to roll out a comprehensive recovery and rebuild plan by investing in training, creating jobs through infrastructure investment and supporting businesses through the tax system, Robertson added.


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