Social Security Act 1938

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The Social Security Act 1938 is a New Zealand Act of Parliament concerning unemployment insurance. After winning the 1935 election the newly elected First Labour government immediately issued a Christmas bonus to the unemployed.[1] However, a regular unemployment benefit was not introduced until the passing of the Social Security Act 1938 in 1938; that benefit was "payable to a person 16 years of age and over who has been in New Zealand for at least 12 months and is unemployed, is capable of and willing to undertake suitable work, and has taken reasonable steps to secure employment"[2]

This act is important in the history of social welfare, as it essentially established the first social security system in the western world.[3]


  1. ^ King, Michael (2003). The Penguin History of New Zealand. Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-301867-1. 
  2. ^ "Social Security - Scope of Legislation of 1938". Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand. 
  3. ^ Sinclair, Keith (1988). A History of New Zealand. Penguin Press. p. 270.