Sick leave entitlements to increase

7 Dec 20

Labour has fulfilled an election promise by moving to increase the statutory minimum entitlement to sick leave from 5 days to 10 days per year for eligible employees.

The Holidays (Increasing Sick Leave) Amendment Bill passed its first reading on 1 December 2020.

The Bill’s purpose is to make it easier for employees to stay at home while they are sick or injured, or caring for sick or injured dependents.

Critics of the Bill have pointed out that the cost will be borne by employers.

Supporters have said the changes will create a healthier, more productive workforce.

The Covid-19 climate and, in particular, the case of the Auckland employee who came to work while awaiting their (positive) Covid-19 test is said to highlight why the current minimum entitlement is insufficient.

Changing the culture of sick employees “soldiering on” at work will reduce the number of other employees who become ill and will allow sick employees to recover faster. The Bill will bring New Zealand into line with Australia.

The Bill is expected to be passed in the middle of next year. It would come into force two months later.

New employees will be eligible for 10 days’ sick leave after working for six months.

Existing employees will have their entitlement increased to 10 days when they reach the anniversary of their first six months.

The maximum number of sick leave days that an employee can carry forward each year will be reduced from 15 to 10 days, so that the maximum number of days an employee can accumulate would remain at 20 days.

The Bill has been referred to the Education and Workforce Select Committee which is to report back to the House by April 2021.


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If you have any questions about sick leave entitlements, please contact our specialist employment team.


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This article was included in Edition 10 of our employment newsletter – Employment News which you can read here.

For more information contact:

Sarah McClean