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Sick leave entitlement in NZ
In New Zealand the employment laws around sick days clearly state that sick leave can be used by the employee when they or their spouse or dependent is sick or injured.
An employee must let their employer know as soon as possible about their intention to take sick leave - preferably before starting work but otherwise as early as possible after becoming sick.
If the employer has reason to believe the employee is faking their illness they can ask for proof in the form of a medical certificate for the worker or their dependent within three days.
After April 1st 2011 an employer can ask for a certificate even on the first day even without having any reason to believe the illness is faked.
Where a certificate is required before three days the employer - not the worker - must pay or reimburse all reasonable medical costs. This will still be the case after 1st April 2011.
After three days of sick leave the employer can require proof and the worker will have to pay the medical costs. This includes any days off. So, for example, proof may be required for a Monday off sick if the employee has also taken Friday off sick and doesn’t normally work Saturday and Sunday.
If the employee does not provide proof when requested without reasonable excuse, the employer has the right to withhold the payment for the sick leave period until it is provided.
For most employees there is a minimum entitlement of five days a year sick leave after six months of employment and five days for each 12 month period.
If someone is in a job for less than six months, sick leave can often be taken in advance and deducted from the entitlement when it comes up.
For part time workers the sick leave is calculated as “relevant daily pay”, which means the hours that the employee would normally work are what they get paid for sick leave. For example if an employee works a five hour shift they would be paid five hours sick pay.
If the hours vary over the week but there is a minimum of 10 hours worked in a week, the total sick pay will be averaged out for the preceding four week period. To calculate relevant daily pay, see the calculator here.
Sick leave can be accumulated to a maximum of 20 days but cannot be cashed in on or paid out when the job ends.