19 May 2021

Bill to increase sick leave from five days to 10 days passes

10:41 pm on 19 May 2021

A bill that doubles the amount of employer funded sick leave from five to 10 days has passed its third and final reading in Parliament today.

Transport Minister Michael Wood announces a new unit will lead a review of the Auckland light rail project.

Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Wood Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

The Holidays Increasing Sick Leave Amendment Bill passed 75 to 33 with Labour, and the Greens voting for the bill and ACT and National voting against.

The law change was one of Labour's 2020 election promises.

Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Wood said Covid-19 has highlighted the need for people to have adequate sick leave.

"In an era at which we are acutely aware of how communicable diseases can spread, it is surely more important than ever that we move past that old time culture of just toughing it out," he said.

Wood said the bill was about fairness and increasing productivity in the workplace.

However, National's Scott Simpson said the bill was going to cost business payrolls another $1 billion a year.

He said if Covid-19 was the rationale for this bill, there should be a set timeframe.

"This is the Government using Covid-19 to introduce long held views about employees and trade union objectives long held and long sought by their influencers."

He said it was not going to serve employees and employers and would ultimately be bad for productivity.

Green MP Jan Logie backed the bill, but said it didn't "go far enough".

Her party want to get rid of the requirement for employees to produce a medical certificate if their employer asks for one.

"Sick leave is an essential part of our health and safety system and we should be recognising that when people come to work impaired because of sickness it creates a risk in the workplace," she said.

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