Outgoing Tourism Industry Aotearoa CEO, Chris Roberts.
Tourism Industry Aotearoa CEO, Chris Roberts.

A newly-announced plan to subsidise up to 80% of a company’s payroll has been announced in the UK, with Tourism Industry Aotearoa calling on the New Zealand government to consider a similar scheme to save mass redundancies.

The ‘Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme’ allows UK employers to apply for grants to keep furloughed workers on the payroll rather than simply letting them go.

In the last week, the New Zealand government has announced a similar, albeit smaller scheme which will offer up to NZ$585 per employee per week for a 12-week period, with the government adding that larger stimulus packages for larger employers would be considered on a case-by-case basis.

This week, New Zealand has moved to Level 4 (of 4) shutdown to take advantage of what Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says is “a small window” of opportunity to slow the spread.

“Every business I have spoken to wants to survive this crisis, but they need to go into ‘hibernation’ – cutting costs to a minimum while protecting their key assets, which includes their staff,” said Tourism Industry Aotearoa CEO, Chris Roberts.

Roberts added the wage subsidy is merely delaying the inevitable but that a furlough scheme similar to the one in place in the UK would be “enormously beneficial” to the industry.

“The UK Government has made some questionable health decisions but has come up with a sensible and well-structured support package to save businesses and jobs, and our Government needs to at least match it.”