Expanding to save jobs

EYE ON THE ELECTORATE - SIMON POWER
Last updated 11:16 05/05/2009

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Recession bites hard at community Adult education vital for community Politician available to highest bidder Maternity services a top priority Down time reflected in Budget Health target must be prevention City fighting recession There are alternatives to explore Expanding to save jobs

The Government is going to extend the Job Support Scheme to include medium-sized businesses those that employ between 50 and 100 workers.

The Government is going to extend the Job Support Scheme to include medium-sized businesses those that employ between 50 and 100 workers.

Last week Prime Minister John Key announced the expansion to the scheme, which was identified as a priority at the Job Summit.

The scheme lets private sector businesses, workers and unions negotiate voluntary agreements to reduce their hours of work to a nine-day fortnight. Under the scheme the Government will pay employers $12.50 (the adult minimum wage) an hour per worker, for up to five hours a fortnight.

The scheme was originally targeted at firms that have more than 100 employees, but the Government has now decided to expand the nine-day fortnight programme to cover smaller firms with 50 or more staff following discussions with employers and unions since the Job Summit.

They have endorsed its expansion to medium-sized businesses because they acknowledge that it may help save jobs. While in the scheme workers cannot be made redundant.

The Job Support Scheme is aimed at businesses that may be facing temporary adverse circumstances in the current economic climate. It is hoped that a temporary reduction in hours will give employers time to ride out adverse conditions while at the same time providing workers with job security.

The extended scheme was made available to businesses with 50 to 100 workers from Monday of this week. Expanding the scheme to employers of this size will make it potentially available to an extra 2000 firms and around 140,000 workers. It is difficult to estimate what the cost of the expansion will be, though if around 6000 workers from medium-sized businesses opted to take part in the scheme, it would cost the Government around $4.5 million.

This government realises that businesses with fewer than 50 employees are also facing tough times. These firms will not be included though, and that is mainly because the scheme would be too difficult to administer for small workplaces. However work is well under way on measures to help small firms, including the launch of our Small Business Relief Package which makes it simpler and less expensive for small businesses to manage cash flows and pay taxes, and there will be further announcements in due course.

Following February's Job Summit the Government was determined to play our part in keeping up or increasing levels of industry training during this recession. Since then, with the co-operation of businesses, workers and unions, we've made it easier for employers to provide industry training for staff on reduced hours.

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- Manawatu Standard

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