Sick Leave Provisions
Under the Holidays Act 2003 employees are entitled to 5 days paid sick leave after 6 months and then a further 5 days after 18 months. There are some conditions on how many hours must be worked, and so some casual or fixed term employees may not be eligible for payment. There is more information about sick leave provisions on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s website -
If an employee misuses sick leave or breaches your policies or procedures, then this may be treated as a disciplinary issue. For more information about that please click here.
Where an employee is off work for long term illness, in some situations medical incapacity may apply. Your HR professional will be able to advise you on how to work through this process in good faith with the employee concerned.
To take a proactive approach with wellness, some companies provide extra sick leave for serious illness, some have ‘duvet’ days where an emploee can just take a day off when they really don’t feel up to coming in but aren’t really ‘sick’, some provide flu jabs, health checks and wellness programmes to help employees build resilience and be healthier at work.
Guidelines on Medical Certificates & Sick Leave
Where employees are off work sick, you can request a medical certificate. If you request this within 3 consective days of the employee being off sick, then you will need to cover reasonable costs of obtaining the certificate (e.g. Doctors visit). Once the employee has been off for more than 3 consecutive days, they will need to cover the cost of getting the medical certificate.
Many HR professionals and managers find it frustrating to recieve a medical certifcate that merely says ‘XX must be off work for 2 weeks as they are unfit for work’. The Association has raised this with the Medical Council of NZ who have advised that they do feel any further education of GP’s is needed and if medical certificates aren’t appropriate, then a company will need to file a complaint with the Medical Council.
The Association has developed some free resources for HR professionals to use to deal with medical certificates which don’t have enough information or to complain. If you have an employee who’s GP has only provided the ‘2 weeks off’ certificate, then we recommend your HR professional first seeks further information from the GP, and if this is not forthcoming, issues a complaint.
To read the Associations article about what information you may want to ask for from the GP, please click here.
: People Matter