25 May 2020

Relief payments for people who lost jobs due to Covid-19 announced

1:27 pm on 25 May 2020

The government is introducing a new relief payment for those who have lost their jobs due to Covid-19, while they find new employment or retrain.

The payment would be available for 12 weeks from 8 June for New Zealand citizens or residents who had lost their job as a impact of the virus since 1 March.

Those who apply would be required to actively seek suitable work, and take steps towards employment, including making use of redeployment or training.

It will pay $490 a week for those who lost full-time work and $250 for part time workers - including students.

The payments will be untaxed.

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People with working partners may also be eligible, as long as their partner is earning under $2000 per week.

Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni said the Ministry of Social Development would administer the payments.

She said the ministry would also have "significantly bolstered employment support".

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said the payment acknowledged the global economy was facing a one-in-100 year recession.

Close-up. Smiling young businesswoman holding cardboard box with her things.

Photo: 123RF

"We do understand how tough it has been for people who have experienced a sudden drop in income and are now looking for further job opportunities and to retrain."

Robertson confirmed that work on a more permanent unemployment insurance scheme had been commissioned by ministers after a request from Business New Zealand and the Council of Trade Unions.

"The fact that this is the third time that governments have needed to do something like this in the wake of a crisis is an indication that we need to look at a possible enduring solution when it comes to people who experience an immediate drop in income," Robertson said.

He said the scheme announced today resembled the one set up by the previous government after the Canterbury earthquakes.

The payments would be available until 30 October.