New rules coming for bereavement and sick leave welcomed by business and employee groups

Advocacy body Business NZ and the Council of Trade Unions are welcoming changes to bereavement and sick leave signalled by the Government this morning. 

Open plan office. Source:

The Government says changes are on the way to leave entitlements, including expanding the criteria of bereavement leave to include more family members and giving employees a sick day from the first day of employment. 

Workplace Relations Minister Michael Wood said all recommendations from the Holidays Act taskforce were accepted by the Government. 

CTU President Richard Wagstaff, who was part of the taskforce, said the current Holidays Act was poorly understood and implemented. 

He said this meant “large numbers of working people not getting their correct entitlements, and large, lengthy and costly remediation processes undertaken to correct past mistakes and make firms legally compliant”.

“These changes should make implementation of the Act easier.”

BusinessNZ chief executive Kirk Hope said he was glad to see the Holidays Act “will finally be overhauled”.

Kirk Hope. Source: 1 NEWS

“Problems with the Act have caused businesses, councils and government departments to have paid employees wrong amounts, requiring multi-million arrears payments,” he said.

“A great many workplaces now have variable hours of work, and the current Act makes it impossible for payroll managers to work out what a week is, in situations where employees work variable hours."

Changes to the Act include giving employees access to bereavement leave, family violence leave and one day of sick leave from their first day at work.

An additional day of sick leave would be given per month until minimum entitlement is reached. 

It would also require payslips to be given to ensure employees know their leave entitlements. 

Another change would be scrapping the “override” in parental leave entitlements — which currently means for holiday entitlements, an employee would only be paid at the rate of their average weekly earnings over the year. 

The extension of bereavement leave would also include the death of stepfamily members, siblings-in-law and children-in-law, some family groups such as whāngai relationships, and aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews.

The new Act is expected to be passed in early 2022.