3 Mar 2021

National wants government to pay wages of those self-isolating

8:35 am on 3 March 2021

The National Party wants the government to pay 100 percent of a person's wages for two weeks if they have been told to self-isolate.

Judith Collins

National Party leader Judith Collins says not everyone can afford to self-isolate. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

All workers would qualify for the scheme, which would be capped at just over $68 an hour, and the money would go straight to the employee not the employer.

Party leader Judith Collins said the current leave support scheme was well below minimum wage and not everyone could afford to self-isolate.

"The 'stay home, save lives' mantra sounds simple enough, but it's not always that easy for people who can't afford to not be working.

"Self-isolation is increasingly becoming a requirement because of the government's failures at the border, yet workers across New Zealand are the ones paying the price," she said.

Covid-19 Response spokesperson Chris Bishop said the scheme was modelled on the Compensation for Live Organ Donors Act, where the government pays 100 percent of the wages for people who take time off from work to donate organs.

"Our scheme is a sensible investment. Lockdowns cost the New Zealand economy $500 million per week in Auckland alone. Avoiding them needs to be our top priority."

He said if self-isolating was made easier there should be tougher penalties for those who did not follow the rules.

Collins told Morning Report the government was not doing enough for people who in many cases were paying $500-$600 a week in rent and were struggling.

"Anything that helps prevent lockdowns is a good thing.

"If someone's working at KFC they're not on enormous amounts of money. They are getting enough to just get by.

"When we look at the realistic situation for many people, they need to be able to pay their bills."

Available support

While you are waiting for the results of a Covid-19 test: The Covid-19 Short-Term Absence Payment is available for businesses, including self-employed people, to help pay their workers who cannot work from home while they wait for a Covid-19 test result. There is a one-off payment of $350 for each eligible worker.

If you are off sick with Covid-19, caring for someone with Covid-19, or have been required to isolate because of Covid-19: The Covid-19 Leave Support Scheme is available for employers, including self-employed people, to help pay their employees who need to self-isolate and can't work from home. The scheme is paid as a lump sum and covers two weeks per eligible employee, up to $1176.60 for people who were working 20 hours or more per week.

This is an official government Covid-19 announcement:

On 28 February, the Auckland region moved to Covid-19 Alert Level 3. The rest of New Zealand moved to Alert Level 2. This is for a period of seven days. Further community cases of Covid-19 have been identified in the Auckland Region. If you are in Auckland, stay home where possible, and follow Alert Level 3 guidelines. This will stop the transmission of Covid-19 and save lives. For more information on the alert levels go to covid19.govt.nz.

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