New Zealand increases sick leave from five to 10 days

The New Zealand parliament has passed a bill that will double the number of paid sick leave for employees from five to 10 days.
By: | May 24, 2021

The change in the labour law was one of the Labour Party’s election promises in 2020. 

The Holidays Increasing Sick Leave Amendment Bill passed with 75 votes to 33, with Labour and the Greens voting for the bill, while ACT and National voted against it. 

Workplace relations and safety minister Michael Wood said the pandemic has highlighted employee’s need for adequate sick leave. 

“In an era at which we are acutely aware of how communicable diseases can spread, it is surely more important than ever that we move past that old time culture of just toughing it out,” he said, adding that the bill was about fairness and increasing productivity in the workplace. 

Voting against it, National’s Scott Simpson said the bill was going to cost business payrolls another NZ$1 billion (US$717 million) annually, adding that if the pandemic was the rationale for this bill, there should be a timeframe set. 

Although Green MP Jan Logie backed the bill, she said it did not “go far enough”. Her party wants to remove the requirement for employees to produce a medical certificate if their employer asks for one.  

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“Sick leave is an essential part of our health and safety system and we should be recognising that when people come to work impaired because of sickness, it creates a risk in the workplace,” she said, according to RNZ.