22 April 1998
Hon. Peter McCardle
COMMUNITY WAGE - A NEW DIRECTION FOR JOB SEEKERS
The Coalition Government's new direction in employment treats job seekers as "people, not numbers", says Employment Minister Peter McCardle.
Mr McCardle today unveiled details of the Community Wage which will replace unemployment benefits from 1 October this year.
"It's a positive for the job-seeker because they will receive a community wage in return for participating in training, part-time community work, or other activities, where they are provided.
"It will maintain their motivation, dignity and skills as they move into paid employment.
"All job seekers receiving the Community Wage will have a contract which specifies their obligations, including being available for community work and actively seeking paid employment. There will be penalties for failing to comply.
"The penalties are based on the principle that if you are offered community work, training or organised activities and you don't participate, you don't get paid."
Mr McCardle said the Community Wage is a key part to maximising the number of job seekers taking part in community work, training or other organised activity in return for the income they receive from the State.
"This new direction is also about changing attitudes towards the unemployed. It will help keep job seekers connected to the workplace and community, to maintain their motivation, and prevent loss of confidence, skills and self esteem."
The philosophy behind the Community Wage is to treat job-seekers as similarly as possible to those in paid work, to maximise their employability and work-readiness.
The community work, training or activities offered to job seekers will be suitable and consistent with helping them return to unsubsidised paid work.
Contact: Helen Keir, press secretary
Employment Policy Economic growth is the key to reducing overall unemployment.
It is our economic environment that largely enables businesses to expand and prosper, providing the conditions for sustainable job growth.
In general, New Zealand needs around 3% GDP growth a year as a minimum, to both absorb the 20,000 plus job seekers added to the work seeking population each year, and to reduce the existing numbers of unemployed people.
While through economic and employment policies the Government does all it can to help create real jobs, the resources of the NZ Employment Service have a greater specific ability to cut the length of time people are unemployed.
The Coalition Government's Employment resources are focused on cutting long-term unemployment, and changing the way we treat job seekers while they are between jobs and receiving State support.
To achieve these objectives, the new direction for employment comprises four far reaching initiatives:
Community Wage - A Summary
The Community Wage is about maximising the number of job seekers taking part in community work, training or other organised activity in return for the income that they receive from the State.
By viewing and treating unemployed job seekers as much like members of the paid workforce as is practically possible, they will maintain their work skills and self esteem, and therefore, improve their chances of moving rapidly into permanent paid work.
Key features of the Community Wage are:
Community Work - A Summary
One of the main activities in which Community Wage recipients will be required to participate, where it is provided, is community work.
Taking part in community work helps job seekers to maintain their work skills, motivation and self-esteem, while giving something back to the community that supports them.
Community work is currently based on the Community Taskforce scheme, which has an established sponsor base, and has successfully provided over 50,000 job seekers with community work experience since 1991.
Community work is unpaid work that is of benefit to the community or the environment, rather than to private businesses or individuals. It is underpinned by a number of policy principles, which Regional Commissioners will be guided by when they develop their strategies at the local level to reduce long-term unemployment.
For example, community work should not displace current or future paid workers. It should be work that benefits participants by developing or maintaining their self esteem, motivation, work disciplines and ethic.
It should, as much as possible, resemble a paid work environment. However it should not reduce the incentives of individuals to move into paid work, and it should not be used when there are other options available to move a job seeker more quickly and cost effectively into work.
The key features of the Community Work programme are:
Receipt of the Community Wage carries with it a number of obligations. Job seekers are expected to be available for and actively seek paid work, and to participate in community work, training or organised activities when required.
While it is expected that job seekers will volunteer to participate in those organised activities which are deemed appropriate for them, it will be possible to require participation where it is considered to be in a job seeker's best interests.
Refusal to carry out these obligations carries a penalty, in much the same way that workers who don't turn up for work don't get paid.
The sanctions have been designed to be broadly consistent with the severity of the breach, and to encourage job seekers to rapidly recomply with their obligations.
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