Support package for quake-hit businesses, workers

The Government has announced a six-week assistance package for Christchurch businesses and workers hard hit by last week's earthquake.

Prime Minister John Key said this afternoon an initial support package would be made up of two parts; an Earthquake Support Subsidy to help employers keep paying wages, and an Earthquake Job loss Cover to support employees whose employer believes their business is no longer viable.

Eligible employers will receive a payment of $500 gross per week for each full-time employee, which will be paid to the affected worker. For part-time workers the payment will be $300 gross per week.

Earthquake Job Loss Cover is a new programme to provide support to workers whose employer believes their business is no longer viable. It will also be available to employees who are unable to contact their employer.

Full-time workers in this situation will receive $400 net per week, to help them transition to either finding another job or seeking other welfare assistance. Part-time workers will receive $240 net per week.

Mr Key said the package was a first step to help the people of Christchurch rebuild their lives and livelihoods.

"It is designed to get people through the next six weeks, as the Government considers what measures will be needed in the medium-term."

Both types of payments will be back-dated to the date of the earthquake and Work and Income will begin taking applications today.

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