Submission on New Zealand Income Insurance Scheme
Because of the structure and makeup of agriculture, the proposed income insurance scheme offers few advantages to many that work in the sector. A significant number of farmers are still the sole permanent employee of the business that they own, meaning that they will not make themselves redundant. 70% of businesses within agriculture, forestry, fishing have 0 employees. 23% with 1-5 employees, 4% with 6-9, 2% with 10-19, and 1% 20-49 employees. Approximately 12% of the dairy workforce are also migrant workers on temporary visas, who will pay into the scheme but not be eligible to claim. This is an unfair deduction from workers who are largely in New Zealand to earn an income to support their families in their home country. A number of other people employed on farm and in the various supporting industries are also set to not benefit, such as contract milkers and shearers who are paid on piece-rates. These workers should not be required to contribute to the scheme.
Of greater concern to the industry is that we believe this scheme may act perversely as a disincentive for people to return to work or attempt a career change to work in the primary industries. When the COVID-19 pandemic began and there were predictions of unemployment at 10% or greater, many agricultural industries ‘geared up’ to attract job changers, seeing this as an opportunity to recruit skilled and motivated people looking for work. These unemployment spikes never occurred, and many rural employers are facing more challenging conditions than pre-pandemic.
A copy of the full submission can be found to the right