Applause called patronising but department says it's positive

Work and Income office staff are breaking into applause or sounding hooters when beneficiaries find work.

The celebrations have been labelled patronising and embarrassing but Work and Income claims clients enjoy them.

Solo mother Candice Benson was stunned to see a round of applause erupt after a jobseeker at Work and Income's Lower Hutt office found work on Thursday.

"One of the clients got up to leave and people just erupted into applause," Benson said. "He looked like he was trying to get out of there pretty swiftly," she added.


Benson conceded there could be positive intentions but job seekers already felt "humiliated and degraded" and had complex reasons for needing benefits.

Benson is seeking work while caring for her young son.

A man who requested anonymity said his mother was applauded at a Hutt Valley office when she found a job. He said his mother thought it "weird" as she didn't know the staff, although it was probably intended as a positive gesture.

Wellington regional spokesman Mike Freeman said staff asked clients for permission before celebrating. Green Party welfare spokeswoman Jan Logie said the practice was mortifying and condescending.

Read also: Christine Rankin: Winz wrong to celebrate