As business owners and employers you will be aware of the proposal to increase an employee’s annual sick leave entitlement to 10 days. The Holidays (Increasing Sick Leave) Amendment Bill has passed its final stage in Parliament and therefore will be effective by mid -July.
This gives employer’s only a short lead in time to prepare themselves for this change and the increased liability that comes with it.
There are of course some businesses that offer employees more than 5 sick days a year currently and so for those businesses this change will have little if any impact. The impact will no doubt be most keenly felt by small to medium sized businesses who may already be struggling in the current economic climate.
It is crucial for those businesses to be speaking with their advisors and accountants to ensure that the increased liabilities are factored into their forecasts and liabilities.
Employers can also continue to take steps to minimise and manage potential risk of illness spreading through the workplace. The impact of Covid has allowed a lot of businesses to develop a work from home approach if you’re feeling a bit under the weather, and this will allow employees to work from home and reduce the spread of illness.
It’s also important for those in management and/or ownership to lead from the front and stay away if they are unwell, which helps ensure the employees feel able to work from home if they are not feeling 100%. However, for those who cannot work from home there is still access to short term absence payment support for those at home waiting for Covid test results.
It’s important for engagement from the top down and the bottom up. Employers need to recognise the reality that employees get ill and the steps both employers and employees need to take to try and minimise the risk of illness within the workplace.
This can be assisted and supported with good policies and open communication on these issues and the expectations around illness. As with everything, if you’re unsure of expectations and obligations leading into this change then seek the necessary financial and legal advice to ensure you are doing all that you can to comply with your obligations.