20 Nov 2020

Covid leave scheme: $129m paid out to support employees' pay

7:09 am on 20 November 2020

The government has paid out more than $100 million to support businesses to pay staff who have been directed to self-isolate and can't work from home.

New Zealand currency held fanned out in someones hand

Photo: 123rf.com

Since the Covid Leave Support Scheme started in March, $129,448,173 has been spent.

Employers get $585.80 a week for full-time workers and $350 for part-timers for a fortnight.

The Ministry of Social Development said as of 6 November, there have been 24,247 approved applications of which 4606 went to the self-employed.

About 90,000 employees have had wages covered by the scheme.

Unions have been calling for more sick leave for workers.

Government documents from September and released earlier this month show about $30m set aside for the programme had not been spent.

It was proposed this surplus be used to partly fund an expansion to the scheme announced that month, along with an additional $31m of new money.

A spokesperson for the Minister of Finance said government Covid payments - including the Wage Subsidy, Leave Support Scheme and Covid Income Relief Payment - have together come in under-forecast, because the economy had performed stronger-than-expected during the pandemic.

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