Finance Minister Grant Robertson has modified the Government's multibillion-dollar wage subsidy scheme and issued a warning to any employers who are rorting the system.

"I want to hear from anyone who believes an employer is taking the wage subsidy but not passing it on to their staff," he said.

And Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has a similar message to non-essential businesses remaining open during the lockdown.

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For the third time, she has requested the names of rule-breaking businesses be provided to her office when asked about them at press time.

"I'm asking them to do right by their community and to close."

So far, $2.7 billion has been paid out to almost 430,000 workers under the wage subsidy scheme.

Robertson pointed out a number of times while talking to media the scheme was one based on trust.

And any employer who was breaking that trust, and pocketing money that is meant for employees, could soon face consequences.

The Government will soon begin publishing the names of firms which have received the subsidy, Robertson confirmed today.

He also unveiled a number of changes to the wage subsidy scheme.

These changes, he said, would help further soften the impact of Covid-19 on workers, families and businesses, and put them in a better position come New Zealand's economic recovery.


Business accessing the scheme must still undertake "best endeavours" to pay their employees 80 per cent of their pre-Covid-19 income.

Where that is not possible – for example for a firm that has had no activity whatsoever due to the lockdown – the whole value of the subsidy scheme must be passed on to each affected worker.

Businesses claiming the subsidy must undertake to keep employees in employment for the period of the subsidy, Robertson said.

"This applies to all workers – all workers must receive at least the full value of the subsidy," Robertson said.

"Employees should not be compelled to take their leave to receive the subsidy."

The final change is around the Government's sick leave scheme.


When it was first announced, it was separate to the wage subsidy programme but it will now be folded that the same scheme to prevent "double-dipping".

The cost of the total wage subsidy scheme now stands at $8-12 billion – taking to total spending package to as high as $26.6b.

Local businesses are vulnerable during the Covid-19 outbreak. Made with funding by NZ On Air.

The amount paid out to workers has not changed, and remains $585.80 a week for full-time workers (who worked 20 or more hours per week before Covid-19).

That figure is $350 a week for part-time workers (fewer than 20 hours).

It will continue to be paid out in a lump sum covering the 12 weeks.

Ardern had a final message to employers: "Look after your workforce.


"The wage subsidy scheme is there so that those who are at the greatest risk do not have to be at work." The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website