New Zealand’s union calls for sick leave for new employees

The Council of Trade Unions (CTU) is pushing for the removal of the rule that workers must be employed for six months before getting sick leave.
By: | February 2, 2021

CTU secretary Melissa Ansell-Bridges said employees need to be able to access sick leave no matter how long they have been working on the job. 

The issue is particularly pertinent in light of the current pandemic’s impact on workers’ welfare. 

In addition, CTU has proposed to increase the number of sick leave entitlements from the current five days to 10 days to the Education and Workforce committee. Ansell-Bridges said the bill for the doubling of sick-leave days would not be made mandatory for businesses for another two years. 

She said an online CTU poll from January 3-6 this year showed that 94% of the 1,200 respondents supported the government’s planned increase in sick leave from five to 10 days. 

The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment has estimated that the government’s move to double minimum sick leave will cost a billion dollars annually, nearly 1% of the country’s annual wage bill, and will be borne by employers. 

Raising the number of days for annual sick leave from a minimum of five to 10 days is the second and by far the most expensive of Labour’s three main labour-market policy changes promised in the 2020 election.  

The extra sick leave is estimated to cost more than the minimum wage increase and the new Matariki holiday combined. 

READ: New Zealand jobs recover close to pre-pandemic levels

A 5.8% increase in the minimum wage is scheduled for April 1; the doubling of the number of days of sick leave is expected to come into effect in the second half of this year; and Labour promised a new public holiday at Matariki from 2022. 

About half of New Zealand employers presently give their employees the statutory minimum of sick leave, according to Nzherald.