30 Mar 2020

Policy around leave during Covid-19 pandemic upsetting some police staff

9:55 am on 30 March 2020

Some police employees who wish to remain in isolation because of the Covid-19 pandemic are being told they will have to take unpaid leave during the lockdown.

Police standing at a cordon

All police staff are classed as an essential service during the Covid-19 crisis. Photo: RNZ/ Rob Dixon

The police are offering special leave to employees in the first instance, but have advised staff they will then have to take annual leave until it is exhausted.

Then they won't be paid at all.

A police spokesperson said everyone in the police was classified as an essential service, despite some roles going on hold during the lockdown period.

Those include administrative roles held by non-sworn police staff.

Staff in those roles would be moved to new roles in the interim.

The spokesperson said the current lockdown operation would need more support.

Police do not have the resources to allow all staff to work from home, and some employees are concerned about coming into an office because of the spread of the virus.

It is in that situation that some staff are seeking to stay home, but have been told they may need to take unpaid leave.

In a statement, police confirmed that was the case, after an employee had exhausted special leave or annual leave.

"To help protect our staff and keep them well we do have policies in place and each situation is assessed on a case-by-case basis," the statement said.

"Depending on the situation and where possible we will support our staff to work from home and where this is not possible the staff member in question may be able to take special leave, sick leave, annual leave or unpaid special leave.

"Staff with any concerns are encouraged to speak with their manager or their district based health and wellness staff to make these arrangements."

Staff RNZ has talked to are unhappy about the situation, fearing being put on a collision course with the virus when they believe their job is not essential.

They are also unhappy at the amount of special leave on offer, with some people told they will get one week of special leave before having to take annual or unpaid leave.

If the employees were being forced to take leave, by law police would have to give two weeks' notice before putting someone on annual leave.

But because police are offering new, temporary roles to their staff, the employees themselves are essentially requesting to take leave.

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