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Sick Leave Entitlement in New Zealand, [Detail Guide]

By Will Elton, Last updated: 2021-05-25 (originally published on 2019-01-13)

Sick leave is a Paid time off provided by the company, for employee as benefit in case employee or employee’s family member has some physical or mental ill. Increasingly, however, in recent years, jurisdictions both state and local, are mandating that employers provide paid sick days. The number of days a employee gets sick leave depends upon the organization and country he/she is working in.

Similar to annual leave, employees in New Zealand are entitled to five days’ sick leave a year depending on how long they’ve worked for the same employer.

All employees can take 5 days Sick leave in New Zealand:

  • If the employee has six months’ current continuous employment with the same employer, or
  • If employee has worked for the employer for six months for:
    • an average of 10 hours/week, and
    • at least one hour in every week or 40 hours/month.

Employee can get at least five days’ sick leave for each 12-month period after meeting the above criteria. If the employee fails to meet criteria in any year, then he/she doesn’t get sick leave entitlement and can be re-qualify for sick leave as soon as they meet the criteria. Sick leave is one of the type of leave any employee is entitled in NZ.

Sick leave and bereavement leave Pdf

How many days an employee can get sick leave in a year in New Zealand?

In general most of people get sick leave for at least 5 days’ in a year, if you have been in job for 6 months. 5 days sick leave entitlement is legally accepted but your employer might offer more. You should check about sick leave in your employment agreement before you agree with it.

Employer can let sick leave in advance or leave without pay as well.

When can you take Sick leave in New Zealand?

Any employee can take sick leave if he/she is sick or any other family member is sick and you need to look after them. As a prt of sick leave rules. You can take sick leave to look after:

  • your partner
  • your children if they depend on you
  • someone else who depends on you.

If you’ve been injured, sick leave arrangements are different.

New Zealand sick leave

Important Things to Take Note of If You Are Sick

  • If you were injured at work. You don’t need to take sick leave. Your employer has to pay you at least 80% of your normal wages for the first week you’re off work.
  • If you were injured somewhere other than work,You can take sick leave for the first week you’re off work.

Employer can ask doctor’s certificate to prove  the injury of employee in following condition:

  • after employee has been away for 3 consecutive days
  • before employee has away for 3 consecutive days if they pay the cost of getting the certificate.

If employee can’t proof then employee is not liable to get paid sick leave.

Payment in sick leave

People are paid with normal wages when they take Sick leave in New Zealand but employee get paid if he/she usually work that day. If you have sick leave entitlement, you should be paid.

In case of regular work hours you take sick leave you’re paid your normal wages — known as relevant daily pay.

Employee is sick on holiday but it’s a day you were supposed to work:

  • you’ll be paid for a normal day’s work
  • you won’t be paid time and a half
  • you won’t get a day in lieu (alternative holiday)
  • a day won’t be deducted from your entitled sick leave.

Payment for part day sick

According to Holidays Act 2003 leave entitlement in terms of days, and doesn’t divide it into smaller units, such as part days or hours.

Employee works for part of the day and then goes home sick, this may be counted as using a whole day of sick leave, no matter how much of the day the employee has worked before going home.

But employee and employer can agree to describe the entitlement in such terms as hours or part days if this is better for the employee.

What if employee is out of sick leave entitled?

One can take sick leave in advance or use some of your annual holidays, or you can ask to take unpaid leave.

Unused sick leave

In new Zealand , one can carry over some unused sick leave to next year but if leave your job you don’t get paid for unused sick leave.

under the Holidays Act 2003 maximum amount of sick leave that can be is 20 days. But employer and employee can agree about sick leave more than 20 days; they can do this in the employment agreement or through workplace policies.  

Sick Leave and ACC Payments

If the employee has an accident or injury covered by the Accident Compensation Corporation scheme the following apply:

  • If an employee has a work related or non work related accident and gets weekly compensation, the employer can’t make the employee take time off as sick leave or as annual holidays.
  • If an employee is getting weekly compensation from ACC, the employer doesn’t have to pay the employee.
  • If the period of leave on ACC is more than five days, the employer and employee can agree that the employer will top up the ACC payment from 80 to 100% by using the one day of the employee’s sick leave for every five days’ leave taken.

When the employee is taking leave for the first week of a non-work accident, they can use sick leave if they have any.

In case of work related accident:

  • If an employee has a work-related accident, the employer has to pay “first week compensation” equivalent to 80% of the employees’ earnings and can’t make the employee take the time as sick leave or as annual holidays.
  • If an employee is getting “first week compensation” for a work-related accident, an employer and employee can agree that the employer will top up the first week from 80 to 100% by using one day of the employee’s sick leave for every five days’ leave.
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