The Warehouse, Kmart, debt collectors, McDonald’s, Destiny Church, Fletchers and New Zealand Rugby now all have the wage subsidy scheme in common.
With more than $7 billion already paid out, a search of the register shows many of New Zealand’s biggest and most well-known businesses haven’t been immune to the impact of Covid-19 and the lockdown.
The Warehouse was paid almost $52 million – the largest found by the Herald – to support more than 8500 workers, according to the Ministry of Social Development’s online tool. Fletcher Building has been paid more than $66.3m.
The scheme supports more than 40 per cent of the country’s workforce.
In order to get the scheme, companies have to show a 30 per cent drop in business between January and June as a result of the pandemic.
After the lockdown was announced, the Warehouse announced incorrectly it would keep its doors open as it was an essential service, but was quickly told otherwise by the Government.
But it was allowed to reactivate its online store, alongside other retailers like Noel Leeming and Kmart, to sell essential items.
Kmart and Noel Leeming also both applied for the scheme and have been paid about $12m each.
Fletcher Building, the country’s largest employer with an 18,000-strong workforce, has been paid $66.32m.
It was the centre of controversy after giving staff a 12-week pay proposal whereby non-working staff would have their pay slashed by up to 70 per cent.
Employees not working during the lockdown would get an average of 80 per cent of their base pay for the first four weeks, but this would be reduced to 50 per cent for the next month and 30 per cent for weeks nine to 12.
Downer New Zealand has been paid more than $38.2m and Fulton Hogan got $34.2m through the scheme.
Spotless, which provides various operations facilities and management, has been paid $25.2 million.
Embattled Mediaworks has claimed more than $7.8m through its television and radio arms.
Rugby New Zealand has claimed $3.5m for 502 staff.
Churches and debt collectors and fast food companies have also apparently not been immune to the impacts of Covid-19 and the lockdown.
McDonald’s has been paid $6.8m and Restaurant Brands, which owns KFC and Pizza Hut, has been paid $21.8m.
City Church Tauranga has been paid almost $104,000 for 18 employees while the Nelson and Whakatāne branches of Destiny Church have been paid $60,436 collectively for nine employees.
Debt collectors are also suffering; Debtworks Limited has claimed $150,000 and Prime Debt Collections got $49,3207.
Other large business taking up the subsidy include retailers Kathmandu (601 staff, $3.6m paid out), Harvey Norman (1850, $12.7m) and Trade Me (591, $4.1m). Forestry firm Juken has received $3.7m to subsidise 531 employers, and miner Oceana Gold got $6.1m to cover 983 staff.
On Monday, almost 10,000 applications were made to the wage subsidy scheme alone. It’s estimated between $8 and $12 billion would eventually be paid out.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson said last week more than a million workers were being supported by the scheme.
“We won’t be able to save every job and every business, but we are making sure people have the underlying support they need to get through this,” Robertson said.
But a report by think tank The New Zealand Initiative released last week said the scheme would “insufficiently protect” New Zealanders from the worst to come during the Covid-19 pandemic.
New Zealand’s fiscal response to the virus was ranked middle of the pack of international economic support; Germany topped the list.
Australia’s JobKeeper package is a payment of A$1500 per fortnight per employee.
This article was originally published on 10 April 2020 at https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=12324128