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CTU launches petition calling for safer sick leave in light of COVID-19

Safe Sick Leave campaign

Everyone at work should be well. The experience of COVID-19 has taught us how important it is that people stay home when they are sick. It’s best for them and it’s best for everyone else in the workplace to stop bugs spreading.

“Currently the law provides for 5 days paid sick leave for a full time employee. The issues experienced as a direct result of the COVID-19 virus have shown that 5 paid days of sick leave is simply not enough. Today we are launching our petition for safer sick leave for working Kiwis,” CTU President, Richard Wagstaff said.

“For most people that have used their sick leave entitlement the choice is to go to work sick or stay home and not be paid. Most people cannot afford to go without a day’s pay. So many will be forced to go to work sick.”

Tarsh Dixon is a community support worker and member of E tū who knows how important sick leave is. “As a sole parent, it is really important to have extra sick leave. If one of my children gets sick in the winter, they all get sick and I need to take time off to care for them. By the time I get sick, the sick leave has all run out for me. The nature of my work as a support worker is very physically and mentally demanding at times, and can cause fatigue and injury.”

To create safer sick leave for all Kiwis we should:

1. Extend the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme for the next year, make it easy to access, and cover anyone with COVID-19 symptoms.

2. Gradually increase legal minimum paid sick leave from 5 to 10 days over the next year – with support from the government to help small businesses make the change.  

3. Make sick leave available if people need to care for their dependents, like their children and their parents.

4. Remove the 6-month stand down to access sick leave when you start a new job.

5. Get rid of the National Party’s law change that can require a doctor’s certificate after just one day of sick leave.

“Let’s use the experience of COVID-19 as an opportunity to make New Zealand a better, fairer place,” Wagstaff said.