28 May 2024

ACC boss takes $32k taxpayer-funded trip amid job cuts

11:19 am on 28 May 2024
Joint head of Managed Isolation and Quarantine Megan Main at a media conference on 4 August 2021.

Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

The head of the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) is heading to Europe for a two-week, $32,000 work trip on the taxpayer's dime - even as staff face the prospect of consultation on more than 300 job cuts.

Acting chief Michael Frampton confirmed in a statement to RNZ that chief executive Megan Main would be attending the International Federation of Health Plans 2024 Biennial conference in Paris, and visit health experts in Europe, over two weeks.

"The focus of Megan's trip is sharing and gaining insights that support ACC's focus on improving rehabilitation outcomes for clients and overall scheme sustainability," he said.

"The approximate cost of the trip is $32,000. For the long-haul flights within her itinerary, Megan is travelling business class. Final costs associated with this trip will be published as part of the Chief Executive Expenses for the 2023-2024 year."

He said she would return to the country on 10 June.

It comes amid consultation on ACC's job cuts after the government asked departments to find savings of between 6.5 and 7.5 percent.

Final decisions are expected to be unveiled to staff on 26 June, with the new structure expected to be in place by 9 September.

ACC has proposed to cut up to 390 non-customer-facing roles - of which 81 are vacant - out of the organisation's roughly 4400 staff.

The creation of 65 new roles - would mean a net reduction of 325 jobs, while the board has also endorsed a plan to reinvest savings for up to 250 additional new client-facing roles.

Main, in a statement, said the timing of the trip alongside the consultation was "not what I would have chosen".

"I have carefully considered attending the conference and these meetings and believe the knowledge gained will help us with our important work to enhance rehabilitation outcomes for the New Zealanders ACC supports," she said.

"I know this is a tough time for many of our kaimahi and I remain closely connected with the process and will continue to receive and consider consultation feedback while overseas."

Main took the chief executive role in late 2021.

ACC Minister Matt Doocey said he was not responsible for the trip.

"Clearly ACC's a Crown entity, it's an operational issue for them," he said, before commending them on their proposal for job cuts.

Labour leader Chris Hipkins said it was not good judgement for the chief executive to have taken the trip at this time.

"These change processes are really difficult for people and I think they look to the leadership of the organisations to be present, to be engaging, to be taking on board the feedback.

"Where people's livelihoods are at stake, I think it's important that you're there."

He argued Labour would not be in that position in the first place, had they been able to form a government after the election.

"If I was prime minister, I wouldn't be making departments lay off hundreds of people."

He would not comment on whether the chief executive should have flown economy instead.

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