Social Development & Employment

We’re securing our recovery to keep people working, ease the pressure on Kiwi families, and rebuild New Zealand stronger than ever. Our balanced approach is designed to create jobs and grow the economy while tackling long-term challenges like child poverty, housing, and climate change, to make sure our recovery doesn’t leave anyone behind.

Here are just some of the ways we’re supporting wellbeing while creating jobs:

Getting Kiwis into work

We’re giving more Kiwis the opportunity to gain the skills they need to find work, or to pivot in their careers. We’ve made all apprenticeships and targeted trades training free, which is already helping more than 100,000 people to upskill for work. We’re bringing back the Training Incentive Allowance for higher-skill courses, to help around 16,000 sole parents, carers, and people with disabilities afford the cost of study and take the next steps toward careers. Up to 40,000 people are expected to get work thanks to our expansion of the Flexi-wage initiative, and we’ve supported more than 2,000 rangatahi into employment, education, or training through He Poutama Rangatahi. Our funding boosts for Tupu Aotearoa will support thousands of Pāsifika people into employment, training, and education, while Mana in Mahi is helping people get relevant trades qualifications while working.

Lifting incomes

We’re looking out for those on the lowest incomes. We rolled out the Families Package, then the biggest boost in household income in a decade for thousands of families. We’re helping more than one million New Zealanders stay warm through colder months with the Winter Energy Payment, and we’ve supported tens of thousands of new parents with the costs of a newborn with the Best Start payment. We’re lifting weekly benefit rates by between $32 and $55 per adult – another historic increase that is the right thing to do, as well as making good economic sense. We’ve indexed main benefits to wage growth, and lifted abatement thresholds so people on a benefit who work can keep more of what they earn. And we also scrapped the sanction that cut benefit income to women who didn’t declare the name of their child’s father.

Improving pay

We believe everyone should receive fair pay for hard work. Since 2017, we’ve steadily boosted the minimum wage by $4.25 – bringing it to $20 per hour. We updated the law to make it easier for people in female-dominated occupations to seek equal pay, and started addressing pay gaps in education and health. We’re also implementing Fair Pay Agreements, to improve wages and conditions.

Protecting workers’ rights

We’re making sure workers get a fair deal by strengthening employment law. We’ve brought back meal and rest breaks, strengthened collective bargaining, restored protections for vulnerable workers, and limited 90-day trials to businesses with fewer than 20 employees. We’re committed to improving the Holidays Act to provide more certainty for employers and employees, and we’re doubling the mandatory sick leave entitlement, to make sure no one feels pressured to go to work when they’re sick. We’ve also made changes to better protect migrants from exploitation.

Easing the pressure on whānau

We’ve made it cheaper for nearly 600,000 New Zealanders to visit the doctor, and we’re helping parents by making it cheaper to send the kids to school, too. We’ve scrapped NCEA fees and increased school funding so most parents don’t have to pay donations. We’re also rolling out free healthy lunches and period products in schools, reducing barriers to children’s learning.

Protecting and creating jobs

Our strong COVID response has kept Kiwis safe while protecting jobs, allowing us to look ahead. Our wage subsidies have supported around 1.8 million jobs through alert level changes, and new initiatives – including infrastructure investments, new rail workshops, and Jobs for Nature – are creating employment opportunities. Treasury forecasts that 221,000 more people will be in work over the next four years as we continue our recovery. To help cushion the impact of any future job losses, we’re working on the design of a social unemployment insurance scheme.

View more key achievements

  • We will reinstate the Training Incentive Allowance for degree level study, to provide additional support to sole parents, disabled people and their carers towards the cost of study.
  • We will increase the amount people can earn while on the benefit by raising the abatement threshold.

Labour’s plan

Labour is already rolling out our plan to keep people working, ease the pressure of Kiwi families, and rebuild New Zealand back stronger than ever. That’s why this year we:

  • Moved quickly to support workers through the Wage Subsidy Scheme, which has now supported around 1.7 million jobs. We’ve extended the subsidy to provide targeted support for workers in the hardest hit industries like tourism
  • Launched a new payment to support New Zealanders who lose their jobs due to the impact of COVID-19, which provides $490 a week for people who had been working full-time, and $250 a week for people who were working part-time
  • Helped more than 9,000 people back into work in March and April through the Ministry of Social Development’s employment support
  • Increased support for Kiwi families and older New Zealanders, by indexing main benefits to wage growth, doubling the Winter Energy Payment for over a million people, and permanently lifting benefits by $25 a week.

Labour will continue overhauling our welfare system with a focus on supporting people into sustainable work, income adequacy so families that depend on the benefit are not living in poverty, and a culture change within government departments to ensure all people are treated with respect.

Labour will continue creating thousands of local jobs in communities across New Zealand by investing in apprenticeships and trades training and boosting our Mana in Mahi, which supports and job opportunities for those most at risk in the labour market.