Increase to sick leave crucial to health response: Greens

Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand

The Green Party is calling for paid sick leave to increase from five to ten days, to ensure people can stay home when unwell to keep all of us safe.

Green Party Workplace Relations Spokesperson Jan Logie said today:

“We all have an incredibly important role to play in keeping COVID-19 out of our communities, and that includes staying home when unwell.

“However, we know that the very real concern of losing the income they rely on stops many people from staying home if they or the kids in their households have cold symptoms.

“The Ministry of Health has rightfully set very firm guidelines for people to stay home if they’re sick. However, the Government must ensure people are able to do so without worrying about paying the bills.

“Five days sick leave is not enough. The Green Party is calling for this to double to ten days, so people can do their part by staying home and reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19. We’ll also explore ways to support small businesses to adapt to this change.

“Self-isolating when unwell is a crucial part of the public health response. However, it shouldn’t be working people having to shoulder the burden of this by being made to take unpaid sick leave. Working people have raised this concern already, and we should listen to them.

“We welcome the extension of the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme this week to all businesses, but this is only a short-term solution.

“New Zealand currently has lower sick leave provisions than almost all other OECD countries, with most countries providing at least two weeks’ paid leave. Australia, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Spain all have two weeks, and lots of European countries like Germany have three weeks or even more.

“Our Poverty Action Plan would also reform ACC in a way which provides unlimited top-ups for people who are unwell in the long term. COVID-19 has shown us that we must do more to ensure people are able to take leave when they need it, so we need to think long-term about how we approach sick leave.

“The Green Party is thinking ahead to ensure Aotearoa can return to level one safely, and prevent future community outbreaks, by increasing paid sick leave to ten days.

“The message to stay home if unwell is very clear, and it’s now time to support people to do that so we can all stay safe.”

/Public Release. View in full here.