Jacinda Ardern has announced new legislation for New Zealanders that will double their annual sick leave.
At the moment, Kiwis are entitled to five days every year to stay home and rest up if they get sick. However, the Prime Minister has revealed residents will get 10 days off.
The rule change will bring New Zealand in line with Australia's sick leave arrangement and it's hoped the move will boost productivity and cut down on the times staff come into work while sick because they've used up all their leave.
Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Wood is set to bring the legislation to parliament in the next few weeks, however it's not expected to pass until mid-2021.
"Covid-19 has shown how important it is to stay at home when people are sick," he said. "We do need to move past the tough-it-out culture.
"We know businesses benefit too when their staff stay at home when they're sick - it means bugs don't spread, leading to fewer absences and increased productivity.
"Respondents to the 2015 American Working Conditions Survey who reported working while sick estimated that this reduced their productivity by around 20 per cent on average, and an Australian study has found the healthiest workers are up to three times more productive."
Opposition leader Judith Collins believes the legislation will put pressure on employers, especially as they try and navigate through life in a post-pandemic world.
Speaking to Radio New Zealand, Ms Collins aired her beliefs about the strategy, saying: "Increasing sick leave entitlements from five to 10 days a year while also increasing the minimum wage to $20 next year shows how out of touch Labour is when it comes to small business."
The government has hit back and said that while the national minimum for sick leave is five days, there are already loads of employers who will offer 10 days off each year. Michael Wood said this policy will target the employers who have stuck to the five day minimum.
"Five days can be easily used up and employees who have used up their sick leave face a choice between working while sick or taking unpaid sick leave, which is not an option for many," he said.
However, it's not an automatic 10 day minimum if and when it gets approved by parliament. According to Stuff, the policy will be based on how long you have worked with your employer - however that time frame hasn't been revealed.
Featured Image Credit: PA
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