Government increases support for New Zealanders to work in seasonal jobs

The Government is offering further financial support for unemployed New Zealanders to take on seasonal work. These new incentives include:

  • Up to $200 per week for accommodation costs
  • $1000 incentive payment for workers who complete jobs of six weeks or longer
  • increasing wet weather payments when people can’t work to reflect minimum wage

Minister for Social Development and Employment Carmel Sepuloni said the Government was acutely aware of the increased numbers of New Zealanders without jobs because of COVID-19 as well as the labour shortages in the primary sector with fewer overseas workers this season. This was even with the border exception to allow 2,000 Recognised Seasonal Employer workers to come to New Zealand between January and March.

“Getting New Zealanders into jobs is our top priority and our changes will help address the barriers unemployed New Zealanders face when considering seasonal jobs, particularly relocation costs and unstable income.

“We are introducing a contribution to accommodation costs of up to $200 per week for up to 13 weeks for unemployed New Zealanders who move for seasonal jobs and still have accommodation costs at their primary residence. This acknowledges that people could be paying accommodation costs in two places.

“We’ve also introduced an incentive payment of $500 to be paid to the employee halfway through the contract and another $500 to be paid at the end for jobs that last six weeks or more.”

Minister Sepuloni said changes have also been made to the Seasonal Work Assistance Programme to provide more support to people who have moved off a benefit to take up a seasonal job, but haven’t been able to work due to bad weather and as a result have lost income. Workers will now be able to receive the equivalent of minimum wage up to 40 hours a week, depending on the number of hours lost.

“These changes are part of the broader Government response to address labour shortages for our horticulture and wine growing industries, which are major export earners for New Zealand and will be important for our economic recovery from COVID-19.

“The Government is very aware of the need to balance the labour needs of the horticulture and wine growing industries as well as those of unemployed New Zealanders and we’re working with the sector to making sure the conditions are good and that Kiwis make up the workforce this season and beyond,” Minister Sepuloni said.

Editor’s notes:

  • New Zealanders taking on seasonal work can also apply for existing programmes like $5k to Work which is a $5,000 grant when a client needs to relocate for a job that’s longer than 91 days.
  • The New Zealand Seasonal Work Scheme can also help with transport costs, clothing requirements, training for the job, and pastoral care
  • The maximum amount payable through Seasonal Work Assistance Programme over 26 weeks has also been increased $940 to $2,149, to allow more financial security over the length of the season.
  • Work the Seasons is a good way for both job seekers and employers to find jobs and list job vacancies  Accommodation listings will be added from 14 December 2020.