The Government has introduced the Holidays (Increasing Sick Leave) Amendment Bill (“the Bill”) into Parliament, in line with its election promise to extend minimum sick leave entitlements. We summarise the proposed legislative changes below.
Minimum statutory entitlement for sick leave will increase to ten days per year of employment.
If the Bill is passed in its current form, employees will, after six months’ continuous service, be entitled to ten (instead of five) days’ sick leave per year.
The Government has cited the COVID-19 pandemic as a key motivator behind its proposal to increase sick leave entitlements, as well as the need to “reflect broadly agreed societal expectations about work and just treatment”.
The maximum current entitlement of unused sick leave will remain at twenty days.
This means the current position remains unchanged, with employees being able to accumulate up to twenty days’ sick leave in a twelve-month period of employment.
The increased sick leave entitlement will roll out gradually.
The Bill is not proposing to give all employees additional sick leave at once. From the date the Bill comes into force, which, if passed in its current form, is expected to be in late 2021, employees will receive the increased entitlement depending on when their employment began.
The point at which an employee’s sick leave entitlement kicks in will remain the same – after six months’ continuous employment. This means qualifying employees will be entitled to ten days’ sick leave when they reach the date a new sick leave entitlement is due.
- an employee who has worked for less than six months will become entitled to ten days’ sick leave over the next twelve months, once they meet the six-month qualifying threshold; and
- an employee who already meets the six-month qualifying threshold will be entitled to ten days’ sick leave when they next reach their sick leave entitlement anniversary date.