Posted on

Changes to sick leave from 24 July 2021

All employees are entitled to sick leave after six months’ current continuous service regardless of how many hours they work a week or whether they are full time or part time employees.

If an employee has not worked continuously for six months, then they will be entitled to sick leave if over the last six months they have worked for their employer for at least an average of ten hours per week and no less than one hour every week, or 40 hours every month. This includes casual employees if the sick leave is on a day they otherwise would have worked.


From 24 July 2021 the sick leave entitlement under the Holiday Act 2003 increased from five to ten employer paid sick days a year.

When will my employees get this extra sick leave?
Employees will receive five extra days of paid sick leave depending on when they started work and first became entitled to paid sick leave. Employees who already are entitled to paid sick leave before 24 July 2021 will get their extra days of sick leave 12 months from the date they last became entitled to sick leave.


Employers need to ensure that their systems and processes are updated. This includes:
• Ensuring payroll systems have been updated to reflect the increase in sick leave.
• If you are employing new staff or creating new employment agreements (contracts), make sure that sick leave entitlements are noted at 10 days.
• Being aware of the changes and communicating with affected employees about what the change means for them.
• Updating employment agreements via a written variation letter to align with employees’ new sick leave entitlements where necessary. The new minimum entitlements will apply whether or not an employment agreement is updated.
• If you are planning to add any other variations to the employment agreement (contract), make sure that you discuss this with employees first. Remember, the employee does not have to agree to any changes that are not mandatory.


Employers and employees should be aware of their rights and responsibilities in relation to sick leave:
• Sick leave is paid time off work if an employee, their spouse, partner, dependent child, or other person who depends on them is sick or injured.
• All employees (including part-time and casual employees) are entitled to sick leave if they have worked for the same employer continuously for over 6 months, or they have worked for the employer for 6 months for:
– an average of 10 hours per week, and
– at least one hour in every week or 40 hours in every month.
• Unused sick leave at the end of a 12-month period can be carried over and added to an employee’s entitlement for the following year. The maximum number of days that can be accumulated as a minimum right is 20 days. Some employers allow for more than 20 days to be carried over or have unlimited sick leave entitlements.
• Employees need to tell their employer as soon as possible that they want to take sick leave. A phone call is the best way, unless the workplace has its own system.
• Unused sick leave cannot be cashed-up or be part of any final payment to the employee when they leave, unless this is in the employment agreement.
• If an employee has run out of sick leave they can ask their employer for sick leave in advance, use some of their annual holidays, or could ask to take unpaid leave.

Head to to read more.