Sick leave increase welcomed for whānau

An estimated one million employees in Aotearoa will benefit from the increase in paid sick leave this year.

Employment New Zealand is encouraging employees and employers to make sure they know how it needs to be implemented.

From Saturday 24 July 2021, the sick leave entitlement increased from five to 10 paid days per year.

New employees will get 10 days sick leave after being employed for six months, when they are first entitled to sick leave. Existing employees will get the extra five days when they reach their next sick leave entitlement date (12 months after they were last entitled to sick leave).

Employees still will be able to accumulate up to 20 days sick leave, as part of their minimum entitlement.

Employers who already give their employees more than the minimum entitlement, eg 10 days or more per year or allow their employees to accumulate more than 20 days, don’t need to do anything.

Employment New Zealand information and education employment manager Luciane Bryant says this is important information for all everybody who is employed.

“Most employers are fair and know their obligations, but unfortunately some employers may not be aware of the changes,” she says.

“In the worst case, an employer may not hold up their end of the bargain and exploiting their employee, and sadly, vulnerable employees who may have fewer options for employment may end up working for them.

“They may make the employee go to work when they are sick, or not pay them when they take sick leave, or even not meet other obligations under employment legislation.

“This can hurt the employee’s pay packet, impact on their health, safety and wellbeing, lead to them getting big money worries and also unwanted distress for them and their whānau.

“If you are not sure of about employment rights and obligations, talk to someone you trust, like your financial mentor.”

FinCap chief executive Ruth Smithers says the increase in sick leave will be a welcome relief for some people.

“This will help take the stress off some of our most vulnerable whānau and help them build their financial resilience for the long-term,” she says.

More information

If you or somebody you know might need more support around about your financial situation, you can reach out to our MoneyTalks helpline on 0800 345 123.

If you’re a financial mentor and you or your client needs some more guidance around the changes to sick leave, you can visit the Employment New Zealand website or call their employment helpline on 0800 20 90 20.