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Leave during COVID alert level changes

If New Zealand were to face another lockdown, it’s important for workers and employers to understand their rights and obligations when it comes to leave.

Employers should encourage workers to work from home, an alternative location or to carry other activities within reason where it is possible.

Where the above options are not available then an employer and their employee should agree in good faith what paid or unpaid leave needs to be taken by referring to their employment agreement.

An employer cannot make an employee take annual leave because of changes to the alert levels in the country or in their particular region. An employer can however make an employee take annual leave with 14 days notice if they cannot reach an agreement.

Likewise employers are not able to force employees to use any of their sick leave because alert level changes prevent them from coming into the workplace. Sick leave can only be requested by an employee.

For businesses that are struggling to find alternative duties for staff who cannot come into the workplace a Short-term Absence Payment scheme has been set up.

More details are available here:

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