NEWS17 May 2024

Stats NZ offers voluntary redundancy to all staff

Asia Pacific News Public Sector

NEW ZEALAND – Cuts to New Zealand’s government statistics body Stats NZ could mean the organisation struggles to meet its core functions, a trade union has warned, after the department offered voluntary redundancy to all of its staff.


In a statement, Stats NZ said that it had offered staff the opportunity to apply for voluntary redundancy, alongside other changes in the department to how it collects and produces data and statistics amid spending cuts to the organisation.

However, public sector trade union PSA said the redundancy offer could impact on Stats NZ’s ability to deliver on its core functions.

Stats NZ made 29 people redundant in December 2023, with anticipation at the time that further changes to the organisational structure would be likely. Stats NZ has less than 1,500 employees.

The changes at Stats NZ come as part of widespread job cuts and spending reductions across government departments in New Zealand following last year’s election, which saw the National Party return to power for the first time since 2017.

Government statistician and Stats NZ chief executive Mark Sowden said in a comment that the organisation was “rethinking how we collect and produce data and statistics to meet the changing needs of people and communities, and looking at how we make use of different data sources and technology”.

He added: “The way Aotearoa New Zealand uses data is changing – people want more and new data that is relevant to their daily lives, and they want it faster. To deliver on this, Stats NZ has recognised we need to do things differently.”

As part of the current fiscal context, Sowden added that cuts had been needed to address the rising costs of doing business.

“For months we have been making savings across the organisation by reducing our office footprint and collocating with other government agencies, operating stringent processes around recruitment, actively reducing leave liability, limiting the use of contractors and limiting travel,” Sowden explained.

“We have also offered our people the option of applying for voluntary redundancy. The decision came in response to requests from some of our people and the PSA. The aim we have is to provide kaimahi with a potential option for those who want certainty ahead of formal change processes – our employees are free to apply or not.”

“As you can appreciate, change of any kind can be difficult and unsettling for people and we appreciate the professionalism and dedication our team shows.”

In a statement, Fleur Fitzsimons, assistant secretary Public Service Association Te Pūkenga Here Tikanga Mahi, said: “The PSA is supportive of staff having the option of taking voluntary redundancy where it meets their needs.

“However, we remain concerned that the constant rounds of cuts required by the government to pay for tax relief for landlords will impact the ability of Stats NZ to deliver the quality collection and analysis of data that businesses and communities depend on.

"The information Stats NZ produces is vital to supporting businesses. How can we build and grow a modern economy when the government is cutting funding to gathering and analysing the data businesses need to make smarter decisions?”