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Government passes bill to increase sick leave

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The Government has delivered a blow to small business owners, fulfilling its commitment to increase the minimum sick leave entitlement to 10 days each year by passing the Holidays (Increasing Sick Leave) Amendment Bill.

The Restaurant Association has advocated for a more measured approach than the blanket increase from 5 to 10 days, instead proposing any increase directly relates to a need related to Covid-19. It is also our view that any increase should not come into force this year, but be delayed until our industry is back on it’s feet.

However, the new legislation will come into effect two months after the Bill receives Royal assent. This means that the legislation will come into effect around mid-July.

What this means:

  • New employees will receive 10 days entitlement as soon as they become entitled to sick leave (generally 6 months after the start of their employment).
  • Employees who already have a sick leave entitlement when the legislation comes into force will become entitled to 10 days’ sick leave on their next entitlement date. That is, on the 12 month anniversary of when they last became entitled to sick leave.
  • The Government have kept the annual maximum entitlement of sick leave at 20 days.

Separately, the Government has also begun work to implement other recommendations of the Holidays Act Taskforce. One of these recommendations is to give employees access to some sick leave from day one of employment, as opposed to only being eligible for sick leave after six months. The Government expects to introduce this legislation in early 2022.

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