Larger businesses may come under wage scheme - PM

11:15 am on 8 September 2010

Prime Minister John Key is not ruling out the inclusion of larger companies in an income support scheme for employees in Canterbury, if they need assistance later on.

Help is being offered to businesses with fewer than 20 employees, which are struggling to cope in the aftermath of Saturday's earthquake.

Employees will get a subsidy of $350 per week, before tax, backdated to 4 September, the day of the earthquake.

Initially, the subsidy will be paid up for four weeks and small businesses can apply again after that if they are still unable to operate.

Mr Key says larger businesses should get in contact with the Chamber of Commerce.

Eligible employers can apply to the scheme from Thursday and the Government says payments will be made within 24 hours.

The Council of Trade Unions says more will need to be done.

CTU secretary Peter Conway told Morning Report that more support packages will inevitably need to be provided.

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee says farming operations are eligible for the Government's wage support package too.

However, Mr Brownlee says there seems to be some confusion between Selwyn district council and farmers as to how many of them have been affected and how badly.