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Unions calling for safer sick leave

Safe Sick Leave campaign

People working in essential services, on behalf of over 10,000 New Zealanders, have today presented a petition calling for safer sick leave to Minister of Workplace Relations Hon Andrew Little.

“Ensuring that people are well at work is simply the right thing to do. Having safer sick leave is essential. Increasing the legal minimum from 5 days to 10 years a year is a basic issue of safety. COVID-19 has really focused all our minds on the importance of staying home when you are sick. But the current reality of a legal minimum of 5 days sick leave is unrealistic in achieving the goal of people staying away from work if they are unwell,” CTU President Richard Wagstaff

Nurse and NZNO member Erin Kennedy knows how bad the consequences can be. “As a nurse, I work with sick people everyday. People that have serious health conditions, people who are vulnerable to really serious consequences if they get sick. It is for them that I support safer sick leave. When people are sick they need to rest and get better, they need to stay away from their work places and spreading germs further. When sick people stay home they protect everyone else from their germs; they keep us all safe. But the reality is that when people don’t have enough sick leave they go to work sick, rather than stay home and miss out on a days pay.”

The 5 issues raised in the petition:

1. Extend the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme for the next year, make it easy to access, and cover anyone with COVID-19 symptoms, including those who are waiting to be referred to testing or getting results. 

2. 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 previous National Government’s law change that can require a doctor’s certificate after just one day of sick leave.