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Communtity Law Manual | Employment: Conditions & protections | Sick leave and other short-term leave

Sick leave and other short-term leave

Sick leave

What sick leave am I entitled to?

Holidays Act 2003, ss 63, 65

In general you’re entitled to at least five days of paid sick leave a year after your first six months of continuous employment.

Even if you haven’t yet completed six months’ continuous employment, you’ll still qualify for sick leave if you have, over a period of six months, worked for your employer:

  • for at least an average of 10 hours per week, and
  • at least one hour in every week or at least 40 hours in every month.

In what situations can I take sick leave?

Holidays Act 2003, ss 63, 65

You can take sick leave if:

  • you’re sick or injured, or
  • your spouse or partner is sick or injured, or
  • a person who depends on you for care is sick or injured (like your child or an elderly relative).

    Note: Your employer can agree to you taking sick leave before you become entitled to it, and those days will then be deducted from your sick leave entitlement.

Do I have to tell my employer if I take sick leave?

Holidays Act 2003, s 64

If you intend to take sick leave you must tell your employer as soon as possible – for example, before you were supposed to start work or, if that’s not practicable, as soon as possible after that.

Can I accumulate my sick leave?

Holidays Act 2003, s 66

Yes. You have the right to carry over up to 15 days’ sick leave from one year to the next, which means you can accumulate your unused sick leave up to a maximum of 20 days in any particular year. This is a minimum right, and your employment agreement may give you a more generous sick leave entitlement or allow you to accumulate more than 20 days.

Can I get paid out for any sick leave I don’t take?

Holidays Act 2003, s 67

No. You’re not entitled to be paid out for any sick leave that you don’t take before your job ends.

Can my employer require me to provide a medical certificate?

Holidays Act 2003, s 68

Your employer can require you to provide proof that you were sick or injured if the sickness or injury lasts for three or more calendar days in a row, including weekends and any other days that aren’t usually working days for you. This means they can require proof if, for example, you’re off sick on a Friday and then also the following Monday.

As proof you can provide a certificate from a doctor or nurse, or from another type of registered health professional as appropriate, like a physiotherapist if it’s an injury.

If the sickness or injury lasts for less than three days, your employer can only require you to provide proof if they pay for the reasonable cost of getting the proof – like the cost of going to your GP. Your employer must also tell you as early as possible that they want you to provide the proof.

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