6 Feb 2022

Covid-19 cover needed for school support staff - Greens

9:51 am on 6 February 2022

The Green Party wants the government to cover extra sick days for school support staff through the pandemic.

A view from behind of teacher aide and two little girls while rest of class taught  further into classroom.

A teacher aide helps children in Newmarket School in Auckland. (File photo). Photo: RNZ / John Gerritsen

Green Party education spokesperson Teanau Tuiono said there is no guarantee schools will pay sick leave to teacher aides and others who use up their leave entitlement because of Covid-19.

It says the pandemic could force workers to use up all their sick days. They would then have to rely on the goodwill of their school to pay discretionary leave for any further absences, but some schools won't pay because the money would have to come out of their operational grants.

The party says the government should step in and give support staff the same deal as teachers, whose sick days due to Covid-19 are not counted against their leave entitlement.

"This is something that needs to be sorted out," Tuiono said.

"I think that the government needs to virtually give school support staff access to the same Covid sick leave scheme as their teacher colleagues, so they can confidently isolate when needed to protect their students and their whānau without the fear of losing their income."

The Educational Institute, the union for support staff, said the problem is currently under negotiation as part of collective bargaining.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs