The New Zealand Government has introduced a Bill to Parliament to expand sick leave entitlements from five days to 10 days a year.
The announcement was made yesterday by Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Wood.
“Covid-19 has shown how important it is to stay at home when people are sick. The Holidays (Increasing Sick Leave) Amendment Bill will mean more workers can stay at home if they’re sick, and more sick leave will help support working parents.
“The Bill also keeps the current maximum entitlement of any unused sick leave at 20 days annually, which will help make it easier for businesses to implement,” says Minister Wood.
Wood goes on to say that businesses will also benefit if staff are able to stay home when sick, meaning bugs aren’t spread, leading to fewer absences and increased productivity.
Not every is happy with the new Bill. Retail NZ says that Government’s blanket announcement is bad news for those who work part-time.
“All businesses want their employees come to work well and healthy, but doubling the amount of sick for both full and part-time workers will ultimately disadvantage those who want to work part time,” says Greg Harford, Chief Executive at Retail NZ.
“Many people who work in retail work part-time. In some retail businesses, one in five employees work only one day a week, often because they are working around study or family commitments. It doesn’t make sense to give all employees the same entitlement – and sick leave entitlements should be pro-rated for part-time workers in the same way that annual leave is.
“For employees who work one day a week, a 10-day sick leave entitlement is equivalent to 20 percent of a working year. This is a significant cost to employers and ultimately will discourage businesses from offering part-time work to those who want it,” he cautions.
The Bill makes mention that employees will receive their increased entitlement depending on when they started, allowing businesses time to prepare.
Harford is urging Government to pro-rate the 10-day entitlement, in line with the rules in Australia. “Retail NZ will be making a submission on the Bill that the Government is to introduce to the House,” he says.