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Business Must Pass On Full Wage Subsidies, Extra Measures Applauded

The Wellington Chamber of Commerce and Business Central is echoing the Government’s call for employers to ensure they pass on the wage subsidies to all their employees.

"The vast majority of businesses will be doing the right thing and passing on the wage subsidy," says chief executive, John Milford.

"We need to be fair about what this is - it’s a wage subsidy. It’s kind of implied in the name what it should be used for.

"We need everyone to be doing the right thing, so that once the lockdown is lifted we’re in the best position to pick up and go.

"The whole scheme is based on a high level of trust, so the money gets out the door and into people’s hands as fast as possible. The business community asked to be given a high level of trust. Those businesses and organisations taking advantage of the system may be ‘named and shamed’ as the Finance Minister mentioned yesterday.

"It’s in businesses’ best long-term interests to pass on the full amount of the subsidy to employees during this difficult time. If they can further top it up to 80 per cent of their normal salaries we would support that too, if the business is in a position to do so.

The Wellington Chamber and Business Central also support the further clarification announced by Finance Minister Grant Robertson this afternoon.

"The Government is adapting to the situation at hand, which is a developing and iterative process. As a result, there will be the need to clarify, and as long as that’s done as quickly as possible that’s what is most important.

"It’s sensible clarification that employers should be passing on the full subsidy to workers, except in the case where the person’s normal income is less than the level of the subsidy. Folding the sick leave scheme into the wage subsidy scheme has also been the right call to cut out any confusion or double-dipping.

"Based on the feedback we’ve received, the subsidy is allowing businesses to review decisions to close down permanently and keeping people in employment with the employer. Keeping employees connected to the business is critical, especially once we’re on the path to recovery.

"Since the activation of alert level 2, 3 and now 4, businesses have been proactive in seeking advice during the lockdown. Across the BusinessNZ network, our AdviceLine for businesses has been receiving well over 1,000 calls a day, and our dedicated microsite has received over 2,500 hits in the past few days.

"We know right now it’s tough, and it’s going to get harder. But it will get better.

"If your business needs advice or support, please call our AdviceLine 0800 800 362 or see further updates on our dedicated microsite - www.wecc.org.nz/covid19."

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