Wednesday, March 03, 2021

A sensible idea from National

Having spent most of the pandemic alternately calling for mass-death by relaxing lockdowns "for the economy", and for those who breach lockdowns to face harsher and harsher punishments, the National Party has finally made a useful contribution by calling for people told to self-isolate to be paid directly:

The National Party is calling on the Government to boost its Covid-19 leave scheme so that it covers 100 per cent of any lost wages for most workers and is paid directly to employees.

Currently, employees who cannot work and self-isolate at home are eligible for a maximum of $1176 for the entire two-week period, if they work full time.

The scheme would allow workers to claim up to twice the rate of ‘average ordinary time weekly earnings’, which was $1289 in the December quarter. That would mean the maximum amount that could be claimed would be $2578 per week, or $5156 for a fortnight in self-isolation.

It would bypass employers who currently have to apply for the money. National is pitching the policy as a small price to pay, compared to the significant costs of level 3 lockdowns.

Cutting employers completely out of the loop seems to be the obvious thing to do. It removes an immediate source of pressure to spread disease, and avoids all the stupidity of people not getting paid because their moron employer can't be bothered applying for them. Obviously, the administrative burden to the government of having to pay people directly is higher, but they are, in theory, already dealing with them, and this allows the admin to be built into the existing process. "OK, you need to stay home, please give me your bank account details so we can pay you".

Hopefully, this will be adopted by the government. Otherwise, we should all be asking very pointy questions why it hasn't been.