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Union members’ Safer sick leave campaign; a step closer

The Council of Trade Unions has today presented an oral submission to the Parliamentary Select Committee (Education and workforce) considering the proposed changes to the Holidays Act which would allow for improved minimum sick leave entitlements.

“Working people have successfully campaigned to improve the legal minimum sick leave entitlement from 5 days to 10. We support the Governments draft law to secure safer sick leave for all working Kiwis,” CTU Secretary Melissa Ansell-Bridges said.

“There are some details in the draft law which do require fixing. Safer sick leave is a matter of urgency. We can’t afford to wait for people’s work anniversaries, which could mean some people would not have 10 days sick leave for a year and a half. The results from two surveys – one by the CTU and one by UMR – show that the public overwhelmingly backs a change in sick leave from 5 days to 10 or more.”

“When people get sick they need to be able to access sick leave regardless of whether they are part time or full time, and have been in their role for 6 months or not. From day 1 working people need access to 10 days paid sick leave.”

“COVID has taught us many things, including the importance of staying home when you’re unwell. As a society we understand that when we support people to stay home when they are sick, our whole team of 5 million stays well. That’s the power of what collective action can achieve,” said Ansell-Bridges.


UMR research results – questions and results below.

Question 1 – The New Zealand legal minimum for paid sick leave is 5 days per year. Do you think this is enough?

No, there should be more sick days – 71% 

Yes, 5 days is enough – 24%

Unsure – 5%

Question 2 – Approximately how many paid sick leave days per year do you think should be required by law?

Yes, 5 days is enough – 24%

6-9 days -10% 

10 days – 48%

More than 10 days -14% 

Unsure – 4% 

Question 3 – Currently the Government is looking to extend minimum sick leave from 5 days to 10 days. The current bill wouldn’t be mandatory for businesses for another 2 years. Do you think: 

The extra sick leave should be implemented immediately – 52 2%

2 years is fair to give businesses time to get ready – 32%

There should be no extra sick leave at all -11%

Unsure – 4%

Question 4 – Currently employers can require employees to get a medical certificate after one day of sick leave. Do you support increasing this to 3 days? 

Yes, increase to 3 days – 72%

No, keep it at 1 day – 23% 

Unsure – 5%

This data comes from an online survey conducted by UMR research for the CTU from the 14th to the 21st of January 2021. The survey was to a nationally representative sample of n=1032. To ensure the sample was representative, quotas were set for age, gender and region. In addition to this the data was weighted to the 2018 census for age, gender, ethnicity and region.

The maximum margin of error for a sample of n=1032 after accounting for weighting is ± 3.2%. This is for a 50% figure at the 95% confidence level.