'It would help them immensely' - 'Sick leave bank' lets workers donate sick days to colleagues in need

Fixing up Napier’s parks is Tony Wright's day-to-day.

But after being diagnosed with Lymphoma two years ago, he's spent a lot of time off work, focusing on his own health.

"A couple of my colleagues and my manager wanted to donate time to me, knowing I was needing it. They knew I was down on sick leave and holidays," Mr Wright said.

That's why the Napier City Council is setting up a sick leave bank for its over 500 staff.

"Which allows people who have serious illness or need longer periods off work to claim some of that time," Napier Mayor Bill Dalton told 1 NEWS.

He says contributors must have 20 days of sick leave left and those who want to use the fund must have worked at the council for a minimum of two years, with checks and balances put in place.

"They'll need doctors' certificates, they have to apply through the chief executive and if it's approved then it's there to help them," Mr Dalton said.

Sworn police officers can already donate their annual leave to a similar fund and council staff in Marlborough started a scheme last year which has hundreds of days stocked up already.

But an employment lawyer warns businesses must make clear whether the leave is banked in days or dollars. Employment lawyer Christie Hall says it could be unfair otherwise.

"If you are banking it by days and you get all the $17/hr workers who are giving up their leave and putting it in the bank, and then you get the $100k manager falling sick and using all the leave out of the bank, then that's going to pay out at a much greater rate than it was accrued for," she said.

Tony Wright says the extra admin is worth it for his team.

"I've got a couple of colleagues that are going through things, not so much them but their wives. And even for them to take their wives to do treatment and things - it would help them immensely."

The scheme has proved popular already, with nearly 170 days donated so far.

The Napier City Council is one of a growing number of employers offering a "sick leave bank" for their staff. Source: 1 NEWS