Labour to give redundant workers 'job search allowance'

Workers made redundant as a result of the faltering global economy will be given a job search allowance for up to 13 weeks under Labour, Helen Clark has announced.

The measure is part of the party's $50 million transitional assistance package released today - pre-empting a similar package from National due to be announced tomorrow.

Under Labour's package, all those made redundant - not those who resign or are sacked - will be able to claim the "job search allowance" for up to 13 weeks.

They will have to have been in the workforce for at least five years to be eligible.

"The rates of payment will be the same as for the unemployment benefit, but will not be means-tested against a partner's income," Helen Clark said.

The estimated $50m cost of the allowance will come from existing baseline funding.

Helen Clark said the package was fair, applied to everyone and was simple to administer.

Labour is keen to match recent promises by National's leader John Key about his party's assistance package.

He has said it will involve temporary cash grants for people with significant financial commitments, such as mortgages, who lose their jobs as the result of economic conditions.

Earlier today Mr Key said the jobless victims of the global slowdown would not have to repay some of the help given to them under National's plan.

Mr Key said a National government wanted to give people who lost their jobs an ability to transition from "one job to another, or maybe a higher income to another, or maybe get used to the fact that they are going to have less income".

He said there would be a time limit, but people would have to wait until tomorrow for the details.

Mr Key said people who lost their jobs would qualify for the dole but the rescue package would give them a bridge to re-arrange their lifestyles.

- NZPA and NEWSTALK ZB

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