Can I be required to take sick leave if I have recently travelled overseas?
All people entering New Zealand are required to self isolate for 14 days and as from 23:59 on 25 March we have moved to Alert Level 4 for four weeks, meaning people need to stay at home.
Under the Holidays Act 2003 sick leave should be used when a worker is unwell, or caring for an unwell dependent. However, there is no statutory or other obligation to exhaust sick leave if a worker is not unwell but is either compulsorily or voluntarily self-isolated (quarantined) after travelling from a country where COVID-19 is prevalent.
Before taking any action and/or requiring employees to use statutory/accrued leave, good faith obligations require the employer to consult with employees on other options such as working from home or remotely, and for the employer to explore paid special leave or discretionary leave. Members are advised that any agreements/arrangements made should be recorded in writing, even by email or text. Members should contact NZNO’s Member Support Centre on 0800 28 38 48 or firstname.lastname@example.org and keep a written record of any decisions made likely to affect their employment such as deciding not to go in to work.
NZNO is working alongside other unions and with the DHBs to get clarification and consistency around issues such as leave and pay for members working in DHBs, but it’s a complex situation that has not been resolved at the time of writing.