Sick Of It

Written By: - Date published: 11:57 am, August 27th, 2010 - 20 comments
Categories: employment, Unions, workers' rights - Tags:

The Employment Relations Act Amendment (2) Bill hasn’t had its first reading yet, so we can’t has had its first reading so you can now bombard the Select Committee with what a load of #&@! it is for a little while longer until the 13th of September for the ERA and 17th September for the Holiday act.  It not only extends 90-day probation to all companies, it:

  • restricts unions’ abilities to visit workplaces (they have to get employer permission first)
  • allows employers to bargain directly with individual employees whilst the union is trying to do a collective deal for them (allowing select employees to be split off in divide and conquer strategies)
  • makes it harder to make and win a personal grievance claim against an employer

All these things need fighting against with a united front by the unions, Labour, the Greens etc, and the more protest the better.

But these aren’t the point of my post.  I’ll probably have another post on those things when it does get to select committee and we can all send our “words of encouragement” to the MPs considering it.


Last week I was thinking about how rubbish sick leave was in this country and how it would be good to slip in an amendment to fix that.  Bill beat me to expressing that thought, but I want to push it more.

Labour or the Greens should add an amendment to the ERA Amendment (2) Bill that you can have sick days in your first 6 months of work, and that you get 10 days per year.  I personally think you should have more than 10 days, as you do in most European countries, but if the amendment is made to be very reasonable it will look bad for National when they inevitably try to vote it down.

It is ridiculous that you can not get sick in the first 6 months of employment.  If you started a new job shortly before winter (like I just did), it is inevitable that one might get a few sniffles in the first 6 months.  Fortunately my employer is reasonable on such issues, but many aren’t.  And for those on low wages a day without pay isn’t feasible – best to come in and infect the workmates if you can get out of bed.

Even David Farrar thinks that 10 days sick leave per year is very reasonable.  He claims not to know an employer who doesn’t give 10 days, but such is the joy of living in a Thorndon Bubble.  From my asking about it was hard to find an employer who did give as many as 10 days.

Such an amendment would be in stark contrast to National’s proposed sick leave policy and would show them up as the stingy suspicious lot that they are.

[lprent: Updated the first paragraph because the acts have had their first reading.

You can make submissions with the CTU's help through the website,
Holidays Act submission help will also be online shortly. ]

20 comments on “Sick Of It”

  1. Carol 1

    What is the law regarding sick leave on short term contracts?

    • The Voice of Reason 1.1

      No sick leave under the Holidays Act for the first 6 months. Some employers may allow it to be written into the contract and some union agreements have better arrangements. But, basically, temps, casuals and short term contractors don’t get sick leave as a right until they’ve had six months continuous service. A length of service they will probably never achieve.

  2. A Post With Me In It 2

    While I commend you policy amendments I think your overall plan will not work.

    It requires the MSM to actually report the amendment which has no chance of being added. And they wont of course. And thus this will be a waste of time.

    • Lanthanide 2.1

      So you’re just going to give up before it is even attempted? There’s quite a different between trying and failing and failing to try.

      Also, this is actually what the opposition is paid to do, so they should do it.

      • A Post With Me In It 2.1.1

        I am quite often paid/expected to things which are a waste of time.

        Does not make them anything other than a waste of time.

  3. Nick C 3

    How about we change the law to end the union monopoly on collective bargining?

    • KJT 3.1

      How about a law to end all monopoly rents on the economy.
      Power companies, Supermarkets and oil companies would be a good start.

      Follow on with banks and food cartels.

      NZ has the highest cost of capital in the OECD.

      Then worry about Unions, which have very little power since the ECA.

    • Blighty 3.2

      What do you mean ‘union monopoly’ on collective bargaining? That’s like saying soccer players have a monopoly on playing soccer. To collectively bargain, you must be a union by definition, anything else is a fake.

      The only requirements to be a registered union are:

      1-must have at least 15 members (Incorporated Societies Act 1908)
      2-be independent of employers (Employment Relations Act 2000)
      3-have a set of union rules that comply with both the Incorporated Societies Act 1908 and the Employment Relations Act 2000.

      Which of these requirements that a group must satisfy to undertake collective bargaining do you have a problem with? I’m guessing number 2.

      • The Voice of Reason 3.2.1

        Nick also ignores the fact that many employers already collectively ‘bargain’ with their employees. That is, the whole worksite gets told ‘there’s no rise this year. Back to work!’.

    • Its comments like this that make we wonder if we should return to compulsory unionism. At least under compulsory unionism workers conditions regulary improved. Today workers are being crushed and are losing all the rights and conditions they fought for. It also does away with the slimy bludgers who ride on the backs of financial unionists.

      • KJT 3.3.1

        Basically everyone is riding on the backs of rights and freedoms won by Unions in the past.
        However that is part of NZ history which is ignored.

        A few unions abused their monopoly in the 70’s and were derigistered.
        Many businesses have formed cartels and monopolies, but these are ignored even though they have cost us far more than the unions ever did.

        Employers associations are still allowed however and unions such as the Law Society.

    • Its remarks like this that make me wonder if we should return to compulsory unionism .
      At least under compulsory unionism worker conditions improved on a regular basis. Today worker rights are being lost daily.
      It also stopped the slimy bludgers who rode on the backs of financial union members when a work place improvement /wage increase was won.

    • Bored Academic 3.5

      What monopoly? Any group of workers is perfectly free to approach their boss tomorrow and offer to negotiate a standard form contract applying to all those workers. Of course they can’t strike but any group of workers not in a union is probably not going to anyway.

      Opps I suspect you meant bargain as under the ECA when the employer was able to lock out unorganised workers to cut their conditions-silly me!

  4. Lanthanide 4

    My work, which generally has pretty good leave provisions (birthday leave, community leave, study leave, even case-by-case day in lieu for working on weekends even though we’re salaried) has only 6 days of sick leave per year. We do get to accrue them up to 20, however.

  5. Could you correct the first para of your article? The Bill had its first reading last week and submissions are open – deadline is 13 September (gee, thanks) for ERA and 17 September for Holidays Act.

    You can make submissions with the CTU\\\’s help through the website:

    Holidays Act submission help will also be online shortly.

  6. Teaching has different system based on service and the fact we are surround by dirty/germ infested children 😉

    In my 5 year of teaching and I have 46 sick days (minus some I’ve taken) next year I go up to 92 days. If I keep teaching for 30+ years I will have 306 sick days (minus any taken) but we don’t get them paid out when we leave teaching.

  7. Draco T Bastard 7

    From my asking about it was hard to find an employer who did give as many as 10 days.

    That’s my experience. The norm is 5 days, i.e. the absolute minimum, and it just isn’t enough. Come down with a cold, which can happen multiple times a year, and you should be taking 3 days off. Not swilling drugs and going to work.

  8. Jim Nald 8

    Another week passes and NZ is subjected to yet another shonky Jonkey policy.

  9. Lats 9

    From my asking about it was hard to find an employer who did give as many as 10 days.

    My first full-time job after uni had 10 sick days per year, and we were able to accumulate them. One of my workmates left after 5 years on the job and he had never taken a sick day in that entire time. Strangely he had all 50 sick days payed out when he left. This is par for the course with unused annual leave, but I’ve never since encountered an employer who pays out unused sick leave. I’ve also never since found an employer who offers more than 5 sick days per year, nor one who includes sick leave in the first 6 months. And when you start work in a school you really need sick leave in the first 6 months, you get competely bombarded by every cold and flu going around. Luckily my employer is very understanding in this regard, so even though it isn’t included in my contract they had no issue with me taking a day or two to get better.

    • Lanthanide 9.1

      My aunt in the US pretty much never gets sick nor takes sick leave. Her employers have recognised this by giving her 1 day extra annual leave per year.

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