Employers urged to plan ahead as sick leave doubles

Published May 24, 2021 (last updated January 25, 2022) - [email protected]
Double Sick Leave

Businesses need to learn to adjust to the added cost an increase in sick leave presents them, or risk going under, according to Employsure, New Zealand’s largest workplace relations advisor.

The Holidays (Increasing Sick Leave) Amendment Bill has passed its final hurdle in Parliament, and will see the amount of employer funded sick leave double from five to 10 days. The increase to sick leave entitlements will take effect two months after the Bill receives Royal Assent, giving employers until mid-July to prepare for the additional costs.

“While the increase in sick leave will help reduce infection in the workplace, there are still some small businesses that will struggle under the increased costs,” said Employsure Advice Services Team Leader Courtney Woods.

“A number of employers already offer 10 days of sick leave, so this shouldn’t affect them. However, it is the business owners who are new to this concept that need to be careful. These employers should assess how the increase to sick leave affects them, and adjust their budgets accordingly.

“Sickness is an unfortunate part of life, and employers need to prepare for the worst but plan for the best.”

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 the virus in New Zealand, occasionally cases have fallen through the cracks. It’s at these times testing becomes all the more important.

“Business owners have a key role in helping rebuild economic growth in the country. Small short-term payments are a step in the right direction,” concluded Ms Woods.

Further enquiries:

Matthew Bridges
[email protected]

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