Covid-19 wage subsidy personal grievance claims pile up as two months remain for scheme

With two months until the wage subsidy winds up, complaints about how it has been dished out by employers are piling up with hundreds of claims now being investigated or mediated.

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Hundreds of claims are now either being investigated or mediated. Source: 1 NEWS

Four and a half star Trinity Wharf sits proudly on Tauranga's waterfront, but like most hotels Covid hit them hard and for staff that means work has dried up.

"It all started going pear-shaped for me especially to do with like contractually stuff and hours going from cream of the crop down to the bottom of the barrel," says former Trinity Wharf worker Michaela Mcilroy.

She claims the hotel applied for the wage subsidy based on her normal hours and received the full subsidy of $585 a week for her but only passed on some of it.

Ms Mcilroy believes they calculated what they owed her, based on the reduced hours she worked after lockdown.

"Some of us have never been down to that low number of hours and they thought they'd never be that low."

She argues her wage subsidy payment should have been based on her normal weekly income.

In a statement, Trinity Wharf says it applied for the subsidy according to each individual employment agreement and according to Ministry of Social Development (MSD) guidelines.

It also says every dollar received through the wage subsidy scheme was paid to staff.

According to the ministry's website, Trinity Wharf applied for 47 staff to receive the wage subsidy and was paid nearly $320,000. But how that money was divied up isn't known.

Thousands received wage subsidy payouts from multiple employers

It’s one of nearly 2700 wage subsidy allegations reported to MSD and around 450 are being investigated.

One employment lawyer says there are some common themes.

“Employers that can get the subsidy but they're not getting it and therefore the employees are not being paid... there are issues with employers have received the wage subsidy and making their employees redundant during that period and there are issues with employers who are getting wage subsidy, paying the to the employees but expecting employees work full-time and that means the employees are actually paid less the minimum wage,” says employment advocate, Ashleigh Fechney.

Over 400 businesses being investigated following Covid-19 wage subsidy complaints

Personal grievance claims need to be made in 90 days.

“So put that in perspective the people that were dismissed on the 23rd of march that is the day that the Government made the announcement  - those people are already outside the 90-day so time is running out,” says Ms Fechney.