Hey, it’s me, Mel! I’ve decided to do a wee blog series talking about your rights at work, how to navigate and implement your rights at work, and what to do if you feel like you’re getting a raw deal. Look us up on Facebook if you have more questions, or need some advice.

So, it’s winter right?

Everyone is getting sick.

Karen’s ten-year old son had a bout of gastro last week; John’s been sneezing and blowing his nose everywhere for the last few days; Linda’s been complaining of a sore throat and a weird rash for about a month; Jan’s girlfriend got the flu last week, and even though she’s had a flu shot Jan’s head feels like the size of a large melon, and a migraine may be coming on…

People get sick. It happens.

And in a culture of employees feeling bad for taking sick days, we’re bound to pass on our lurgies by simply forcing ourselves to be in proximity of other people.

That’s a part of what I want to talk about.

Taking a sick day here and there, is okay! (Even if someone is making you feel like it’s not.)

In fact, it’s 100% better than taking your illness to work and spreading it around the lunch room!


  • After you’ve been working somewhere for SIX MONTHS, you’re allowed to take a paid sick day.
  • You have a total of FIVE paid sick days per year. (This is only the Minimum Requirement and you may be entitled to more. Check your contract!)
  • If you don’t use all of your sick days in a year, they get added to the next year’s total. (These can accumulate up to a maximum of 20 days.)
  • If you’re only off work for 1-2 days and are asked for a medical certificate, your employer has to pay for the doctor’s visit. (If you’re off for a third, consecutive day, you have to pay for the doctor’s visit yourself.)

It’s super important to remember that these are only NZ’s Minimum Requirements regarding sick leave. Your boss can (and hopefully will!) choose to give you better conditions, a higher number of sick days, and more flexibility around your hours.

To take a sick day, you call your manager as soon as you know you won’t be up to working and say “Hey Colin, I have a bad headache and think I’ve come down with something. I’d like to please take a sick day, but I’ll be back on form tomorrow.”

If you need more information you can visit the Employment NZ website for a full run down.

2 Replies to “Know Your Rights: Sick Leave”

    1. Hey, thanks for getting in touch! There is no maximum for sick leave. An employer can choose to allow as much sick leave as they want. The minimum however, is five days. In NZ, every permanent employee must be allowed at least five sick days per year, once they have been working for six-months.

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