Finance Minister Mark Brown last night warned authorities are checking and will not hesitate to take necessary action if they find people misusing the subsidy.
Businesses affected by the coronavirus crisis are receiving government’s minimum wage subsidy of $7.60 for 35 hours a week per employee.
They are then supposed top up the balance to meet the contracted hourly rate of their employee. If the businesses are unable to pay that, they must reduce the hours of work.
However government has been alerted that some employers are making their employees work for 35 hours on just $266, and other workers are staying home collecting the subsidy.
Brown commended those employers that were doing the right thing by their employees in these difficult times. For those who are not, he said they should remember they will be relying on these same employees to get their business back on its feet after the pandemic.
“If any bad behaviour crosses the line – although I am sure it will not – you are on notice that government authorities are checking and will not hesitate to take necessary action, and in addition, hold any future wage subsidy payments,” Brown said.
“It is important at this time to keep an eye on morale.
“Keeping our employees motivated and optimistic for the future is extremely important. While you as an employer might be suffering, your staff are also suffering as they face reduced hours or carrying out tasks they do not normally do.”
As of yesterday, $6.4 million has been distributed to the Cook Islands community and businesses as part of the economic response package.