21 Apr 2009

Firms sign up to nine-day fortnight

5:22 am on 21 April 2009

About 60 companies have approached Work and Income asking about the Government's nine-day working fortnight.

Under the Job Support Scheme, workplaces can negotiate voluntary agreements to reduce work hours, and apply for a government wage top up.

Three firms have signed up to the scheme. Fisher & Paykel and an Oamaru-based company, Summit Wool Spinners, have had their applications to join the scheme approved.

A third manufacturing company, which does not want to be named, has also signed up.

At the moment, only companies with 100 employees or more can join up, but the Prime Minister, John Key, has indicated the scheme will soon be extended to include smaller businesses.

He says he is happy with the take up of the scheme.

Social Development Minister, Paula Bennett, says the scheme will result in 60 jobs being retained at Fisher & Paykel, 57 jobs at Summit, and six at the other company.

She says the impact of keeping those jobs for the next six months at least should not be underestimated.

Work & Income has had about 60 approaches about the scheme, mainly from manufacturing and construction businesses.

Ms Bennett expects more firms to come on board in the next few weeks.