20 May 2021

The Holidays (Increasing Sick Leave) Amendment Bill has now been passed. This will increase the minimum employee sick leave entitlement from 5 days per year to 10 days per year. Maximum accrual remains the same at 20 days.

A summary of the changes

Sick leave can be used when an employee is unwell or injured, or when someone who depends on them for care is unwell or injured.

Under the current Holidays Act 2003, employees are entitled to sick leave once they have worked with the same employer for six months. This includes employees who have worked continuously as well as those who have worked an average of at least 10 hours per week, including at least one hour a week or 40 hours a month.

The new legislation will come into effect two months after the Bill receives Royal assent – which is expected to be around mid-July.

After the Bill’s commencement, an employee would first become entitled to 10 days’ sick leave on their next entitlement date. This is based off their anniversary date. New employees will receive 10 days entitlement as soon as they become entitled to sick leave.

Employees who already have a sick leave entitlement when the legislation comes into force will become entitled to 10 days’ sick leave on their next entitlement date. That is, on the 12 month anniversary of when they last became entitled to sick leave.

Employees who already receive an entitlement to 10 or more sick leave days a year will not be directly affected by this change in the minimum entitlement.

Separately, the Government has also begun work to implement the recommendations of the Holidays Act Taskforce. One of these recommendations is to give employees access to some sick leave from day one of employment, as opposed to only being eligible for sick leave after six months. The Government expects to introduce this legislation in early 2022.

Please contact us if you need any advice or assistance with employee sick leave entitlements. We can also help you update your payroll systems to comply with these changes.  

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