Employers must prepare as double sick leave comes into effect

Published July 23, 2021 - [email protected]
Sick Leave

Employers across the country are reminded the amount of sick leave staff are legally entitled to increases from five days per year to 10 from 24 July 2021.

As part of the new change, eligible employees will be entitled to 10 days’ sick leave each year after working for their employer for six months, or if they are already entitled to sick leave, from their next ‘entitlement date’. Many employers may already provide at least 10 days’ sick leave and are not impacted by the change.

Employsure, New Zealand’s largest workplace relations advisor, is urging business owners new to providing 10 days sick leave to quickly adjust to the change, and calculate what the added costs mean for them.

“Business owners who are new to this concept must be careful. A new cost for employers, whatever it is, could mean a review of expenses has to take place in order to ensure the business remains profitable,” said Employsure Advice Services Team Leader Courtney Woods.

“While the increase in sick leave is a welcome one that will help provide consistency in businesses across the country and help reduce infection in the workplace, some may struggle under the increased costs. Adjusting budgets accordingly will help avoid a financial catastrophe for employers.”

Monitoring which workers are sick is crucial to reducing infection in the workplace, and it’s recommended employers have a strong digital platform in place to help with this. People management software like BrightHR can help employers plan rosters accordingly to reduce the spread of disease, should workers fall ill.

Employers who qualify can still take advantage of the short-term absence payment to keep paying eligible workers who cannot work from home and are required to stay home while waiting for a COVID-19 test result (in line with public health guidance).

Employers need to sign a declaration and can only apply once in a 30-day period for each individual employee, unless otherwise directed by health advice. This payment incentivises employees to be more honest with their employers if they feel sick and are awaiting a COVID-19 test result, without the fear of financial burden if they do not have any paid leave entitlements.

“While we’ve done extremely well in dealing with COVID-19 in New Zealand, occasionally cases have fallen through the cracks. It’s at these times testing and vaccinations becomes all the more important,” continued Ms Woods.

“As more of the population becomes vaccinated, it will hopefully lead to less sick days being used by employees – meaning less stress for employers. While small business is an essential part of our economy, sickness however, is an unfortunate part of life that employers must always be prepared for.”

Further enquiries:

Matthew Bridges

[email protected]

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