Big Job Push – ‘Stronger Together Jobs Support Scheme’

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said employers approved as ‘Stronger Together Employers’ would be granted a wage subsidy, equivalent to the minimum wage rate for a three-month period when they employ eligible Fijians.
03 Oct 2020 10:45
Big Job Push – ‘Stronger Together Jobs Support Scheme’
Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. Photo: Ronald Kumar

A minimum wage subsidy for new employments, Government assistance for Nadi International Airport taxi drivers and no loss of assistance for hotel workers who return to work will be initiated.

Minister for Economy and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum announced the new initiatives called the ‘Stronger Together Jobs Support Scheme’ yesterday.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said employers approved as ‘Stronger Together Employers’ would be granted a wage subsidy, equivalent to the minimum wage rate for a three-month period when they employ eligible Fijians.

He said if a person was hired at a rate of $3.30 per hour, the Government would provide the $2.68 per hour minimum wage rate.

The employer will have to provide the difference, pay for the Fiji National Provident Fund contributions and any other allowance under employment regulations.

He said employers in the private sector, public enterprises, registered NGOs, and municipal councils were all invited to express their interest in becoming ‘Stronger Together Employers’.

“To prevent this scheme from curtailing existing employment, new employees will be considered against existing staff numbers as of September 30, 2020, as verified through FNPF,” he said.

The following individuals will be given preference for employment through this initiative:

  • Fijians without FNPF membership who are or who were working in the informal sector; and
  • Fijians with FNPF membership whose contributions ceased prior to 30 September 2019 (i.e., those unemployed prior to COVID-19);

Fijians who are currently receiving assistance under phase two and phase three are also eligible for employment through the Stronger Together Jobs Support Scheme.

“However, if these employees are successfully employed under this scheme, they will forgo continued assistance under phase two and three,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

“In the event they are unemployed after participating in the scheme, they can reapply to receive phase two and three assistance, in the event their former employer is still not able to re-hire them.

“Fijians who are currently receiving social welfare payments are eligible for employment through this scheme. However, they will have to forgo social welfare payments if they are successfully employed.”

The initiative will be managed through the Fiji Revenue and Customs Service in collaboration with FNPF, Ministry of Economy, and other relevant Government agencies.

Hotel workers exemption

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum pointed out that hotels through the ‘Love Your Locals’ initiative had been booked for every weekend to full capacity.

He said some hotels were faced with a labour crisis as the workers did not wish to return to work fearing fear they might forego their fortnightly Government assistance through the FNPF.

“Government together with FNPF is providing an exemption for hotel workers, and employees of tour and other tourism related operators to still qualify for full unemployed assistance of $220 per fortnight under phase two even if they do work on Saturday and Sunday,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

Airport taxi

Nadi International Airport taxi operators will be entitled to $220 in assistance on a fortnightly basis.

This is a welcomed move given that international passenger flights providing business to taxi operators is zero at the moment while domestic flights out of Nausori International Airport has started.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said work had been really bad for taxi drivers, who were operating from the Nadi International Airport.

However, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum stated that they were also currently assessing the taxi drivers at the Nausori Airport.

Edited by Jyoti Pratibha


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