Preparations for the launch of the New Zealand Income Insurance Scheme (NZIIS), proposed in February, are underway, with the government hiring senior staff to oversee its implementation.
However, opposition party National has criticised the move, saying it was “irresponsible” and “premature” to hire permanent employees for an initiative that has yet to be finalised, Newsroom reported.
The scheme, which needs $3.5 billion per year to operate, is proposed to be funded through an income levy of 2.77%, split equally between employees and employers, with ACC overseeing administration of the scheme.
In May, Parliament passed legislation allowing ACC to begin working on the scheme, setting aside $60 million of funding for the NZIIS’ establishment. ACC later announced that it is looking to hire a head of policy and strategy for the scheme, as well as a head of delivery, a head of scheme architecture and design, and a senior research advisor.
According to the report, these roles were labelled as permanent positions, except for the senior research advisor, which was listed as a fixed-term contract.
The National Party’s social development and employment spokeswoman, Louise Upston, criticised this, as the results of the public consultation process held in April have yet to be released.
“We're assuming there needs to be additional legislation to authorise it, so to be out employing people is irresponsible, in my view,” Upston said.
The conservative opposition party said it was concerned that the NZIIS could burden the business sector with significant costs, which could be passed on to consumers.
National also said the scheme could also create an incentive for New Zealanders to remain unemployed for longer, making it harder to “reconnect” them to employment.
“Many businesses are saying they will train up people from scratch, so why is it at a time like this we would encourage or provide a scheme that would allow people to be out of work for seven months? It just doesn't make sense,” Upston said.