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Can an employer refuse to pay me sick leave?

#yourquestionsanswered If you're sick, does your employer have to pay you?

Employee experiencing workplace stress

In New Zealand, sick leave is a fundamental right for employees, and employers generally cannot refuse sick leave, if you are entitled to it. Sick leave is a crucial employment benefit that ensures employees can take time off work when they're unwell without compromising their financial stability.

What are my entitlements?

In New Zealand, the legal framework governing sick leave is primarily outlined in the Holidays Act 2003. According to this legislation, employees are entitled to a minimum of ten days of sick leave per year after the first six months of continuous employment. Sick leave is designed to cover situations where an employee is unable to work due to illness or injury.

Can my employer refuse to pay me sick leave then?

There may be times when an employer may query or even deny sick leave:

  1. Insufficient Notice: Employers may require employees to provide reasonable notice when taking sick leave. If an employee fails to give notice or provides inadequate notice, an employer might have grounds to deny the request.

  2. Misuse of Sick Leave: If an employer has evidence that an employee is abusing sick leave, for example, by taking unauthorized days off or providing false information, they may take disciplinary action and deny further sick leave requests.

  3. Medical Certification: Employers can request medical certificates as proof of the need for sick leave, especially if the absence is for an extended period. If an employee fails to provide a medical certificate when requested, an employer may deny the sick leave.

  4. Exhaustion of Sick Leave Entitlement: If an employee has already used up their allocated sick leave days for the year, the employer may deny additional requests until the leave balance is replenished.

Still have questions?

Check your employment agreement or ask your employer if possible, or give us a call!


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