The Public Service Association strongly supports government plans to develop a social insurance scheme, which will protect all workers but particularly those employed in sectors prone to change and displacement.
Unions will work together with Business NZ and the government to explore an ACC-style system, which could provide 80% of a workers’ income for a period after they lose their job.
“Many people lost their jobs due to Covid-19 last year, and for some it was the first time they ever had to rely on the welfare system for support. New Zealanders understand now more than ever that hard times can arrive rapidly and unexpectedly,” says PSA National Secretary Kerry Davies.
“Losing your job causes immense financial and emotional distress. Workers make plans and budgets based on their current income, so it makes sense to ensure a period of financial continuity for people who lose their jobs.”
Combined with active labour market policies such as training and targeted skill development, social insurance will help people transition to new jobs and limit the damage caused by job losses.
Over fifty percent of unemployed people find new jobs within three months, and ninety percent do so within a year.
Increased financial stability during this transition will enable workers to find jobs that match their skills and experience. This leads to decreased turnover, increased worker wellbeing, and improved services.
Social insurance will also assist in challenging labour market inequities.
Last year between March and September the number of unemployed women rose 28%, compared to a 16% rise for men.
Following New Zealand-wide restructures and job losses in the 1980s, by 1992 the Māori unemployment rate hit 26%, compared to a general rate of 10%.
“When large numbers of New Zealanders lose their jobs, some groups tend to be hit harder than others. Social insurance protects everyone, but it offers particularly important protection to the most vulnerable,” says Ms Davies.
“We’re confident securely employed workers will welcome increased support for those in more precarious jobs.”