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Government’s Covid-19 Worker Relief Package Leaves Home-based ECE Educators Out In The Cold

No provision made by Work and Income for home-based ECE sector workers

Home-based Educators are in a high state of anxiety, unable to get an answer from Work and Income NZ (WINZ) about possible financial assistance as the number of children in their care declines due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

PORSE, New Zealand’s largest home-based ECE provider catering for 3,000 families, says the confusion and mixed messages coming from WINZ to the in-home ECE sector is unacceptable.

“Our Educators are contractors, and are therefore self-employed. Their businesses aren’t “registered” as they fall below the income threshold, which appears to mean they aren’t eligible for financial assistance,” says PORSE owner Rrahul Dosshi.

“Many Educators are experiencing falling rolls due to Covid-19, losing their livelihoods as parents work from home and can care for their children themselves, or are laid off so aren’t able to afford the service. And no doubt there will be some Educators who need to pause their service while they self-isolate if required. The future of our contracted Educators is at risk and we are disappointed WINZ isn’t able to provide assurance about the level of assistance they can provide.

“The government needs to give WINZ clearer guidelines about how the assistance package would impact the home-based ECE sector,” adds Mr Dosshi.

Napier’s Lynda Bright has been a home-based Educator with PORSE for 12 years. In a week she has seen her business halve.

“WINZ hasn’t been able to give me a definitive answer to my request for help. They didn’t know how the relief package applied to the ECE sector. I felt more panicked at the end of the phone call than I did before I rang them. As home-based Educators we are not self-employed we are contractors, but for tax purposes, we are classified as self-employed. So I was told that in-home ECE was a ‘grey area’. Hardly satisfactory, especially in this time of incredibly high anxiety and financial stress,” she says.

“Confusion in our sector is not acceptable. If for some reason the government’s relief package is not applicable to home-based Educators, we urgently request they are included immediately,” says Mr Dosshi.

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