Sick leave increase and the new Matariki public holiday
Later this year, legislation is expected to pass that will increase an employee’s paid sick leave entitlement from 5 days to 10. The Holidays (Increasing Sick Leave) Amendment Bill aims to ensure that employees have better access to sick leave when they (or their dependants) are sick or injured, rather than coming to work while sick. This would bring New Zealand’s sick leave entitlement in line with Australia and several other OECD countries. It passed its First Reading in Parliament on 1 December 2020.
The Bill in its current form also proposes to reduce the amount of unused sick leave that can be carried over into the next year, from 15 days down to 10 days. The maximum amount of sick days that can be accumulated at any one time will remain the same, at 20 days. Under the Holidays Act, sick leave is not pro-rated, meaning that a full-time employee will be entitled to the same amount of sick leave as a part-time employee working 1 day per week.
Starting in 2022, a new public holiday has also been confirmed. Matariki, which marks the start of the Māori New Year, will occur on 24 June 2022. Matariki is a cluster of stars (Pleiades) that rises in mid-winter. The exact timing of Matariki shifts each year (depending on the appearance of the constellation in the sky), so the Matariki Advisory Group will set future dates, which are expected to always fall on a Monday or a Friday. Legislation is expected to be introduced later this year to amend the Holidays Act and add this new public holiday.
We recommend that you take this opportunity to revisit your employment agreements and sick leave policies to ensure that you will be prepared if and when these Bills pass.
For more information on sick leave increases or the Matariki public holiday, please contact a member of our employment team.
Disclaimer: the content of this article is general in nature and not intended as a substitute for specific professional advice on any matter and should not be relied upon for that purpose