Proposed changes to sick leave

Sick leave to change from 5 - 10 days

The Government has announced plans to double sick leave entitlement for employees, which may be in place by late next year.

The Holidays (Increasing Sick Leave) Amendment Bill was introduced to Parliament on Tuesday, 1 December 2020, and is currently at the First Reading stage. The Bill proposes to amend the Holidays Act 2003, specifically in relation to the sick leave entitlements of employees.

What are the proposed changes?

If the Bill is successfully enacted, a qualifying employee’s sick leave entitlement will increase from 5 days to 10 days per 12-month period.

The number of unused sick days that are able to be carried over to the following 12-month period are reduced under the Bill, from 15 days to 10 days. This means the maximum entitlement to sick leave per 12-month period, which allows for unused sick leave to be carried over, is kept at the current amount of 20 days.

How and when will the proposed changes be implemented?

The Bill is expected to pass in mid-2021, and will come into force two months after it is enacted. Transitional Arrangements set out in the Bill provide that the changes will not immediately apply to all employees at once, instead employees will receive the increased sick leave entitlements at differing times depending on when they began work.

For example, for an employee who has been working for over six months the changes will apply upon reaching the anniversary date they first became entitled to sick leave. For an employee who has been working for less than six months, the changes will apply as soon as they become entitled to sick leave (generally after six months of work).

The Bill can be read in full on the New Zealand Legislation website here.

For further information or assistance with navigating your employment law needs, please contact our Employment Team (Troy WanoRebecca Eaton and Jaye Atkin) on 06 768 3710