Coronavirus: Some businesses accused of ripping off Government's wage subsidy scheme

Some businesses in New Zealand are said to be ripping off the Government's multi-billion dollar COVID-19 wage subsidy scheme. 

One 19-year-old, who has asked to remain anonymous, lost her job last week even though the cafe she worked for has been paid out by the scheme to cover her wages.

"They made me redundant, it was about three or four days after it said it had been granted for me," she told Newshub. "I was pretty upset about it."

The cafe is expected to be one of many abusing the system.

The New Zealand Council of Trade Unions (NZCTU) has received 2000 complaints in the past week.

"I think we've seen employers taking advantage of the situation," NZCTU president Richard Wagstaff said.

"We've heard of people making up employees to gouge out the system and effectively fraud it."

Employment New Zealand, the official place for workers to take their concerns, has received 74 complaints. 

Another three were referred from the Serious Fraud Office, and it has a warning for employers breaking the law. 

"The Serious Fraud Office will be taking action against anyone who is found to have taken advantage of COVID-19 to undertake serious and complex fraud," SFO director Julie Read said.

The Ministry of Social Development is apologising after its search system for employers who've been paid subsidies crashed on Monday night and again on Tuesday morning. 

The scheme itself is also in hot demand. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed on Tuesday that $6.6 billion had been paid out so far to 1,073,120 workers.

The scheme pays $585 a week per full-time worker and $350 a week per part-timer. 

To be eligible, businesses have to demonstrate a 30 percent loss in revenue compared year-on-year. 

All businesses that qualify and receive a payment must pay the full amount to each employee and can't pocket it for themselves.