Increasing the minimum sick leave entitlement

The Government Bill increasing employees’ minimum sick leave entitlement from five days to 10 days per year has passed its third reading.

The changes in more detail

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. This means that the legislation will come into effect 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 1 of employment, as opposed to only being eligible for sick leave after 6 months. The Government expects to introduce this legislation in early 2022.

Read the Government’s announcement on the Sick Leave Bill(external link) — Beehive website

Last updated: 20 May 2021