Social Development & Employment

We’re securing our economy 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 already supported more than 90,000 New Zealanders through free trades training and apprenticeships, and we’ve announced an extension to the Apprenticeship Boost scheme which will see a further 38,000 Kiwis supported into a trade. We’ve brought 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 more people are expected to get work thanks to our expansion of the Flexi-wage initiative, and we’ve supported more than 3,580 young people 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 has already helped around 4,700 people get relevant trades qualifications while working. We’re also improving access to driver license testing and training to help around 64,000 Kiwis, which will remove barriers and open up more job opportunities.

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 a recently boosted Best Start payment. We’ve increased weekly benefit rates three years in a row – in Budget 2021, we lifted rates by between $32 and $55 per adult. We’ve indexed main benefits to wage growth and delivered the largest increase in abatement levels in over two decades, so people on a benefit who work can keep more of what they earn. 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 – bringing it to $21.20 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. We’ve also provided immediate relief through the global petrol price spike, with a temporary 25 cent per litre reduction in fuel tax, reduced road user charges and half-price public transport fares .

Protecting and creating jobs

Our strong COVID response has kept Kiwis safe while protecting jobs, allowing us to look ahead. The support from the Wage Subsidy Scheme and the Resurgence Support Payment helped cushion the impacts of COVID and allowed businesses to bounce back quickly. New initiatives – including infrastructure investments, new rail workshops, and Jobs for Nature – are creating employment opportunities, and unemployment is at an historic low. To help people bounce back from any future job losses, we’re working on the design of an income 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.