The Government advised that the purpose of the Bill was to better align the status quo with “broadly agreed societal expectations about work and just treatment.” It has been acknowledged that the COVID-19 pandemic was a key motivator behind the Bill, with Workplace Relations and Safety Minister, Michael Wood, stating: “In an era at which we are acutely aware of how communicable diseases can spread, it is surely more important than ever that we move past the old time culture of just toughing it out.”
However, the Bill was polarizing in Parliament with National and Act voting against the Bill because of the financial impact it would have on businesses (estimated at an additional $1 billion per year), and Jan Logie from the Greens supporting the Bill but claiming it did not go far enough.
Employees will not automatically become entitled to 10 days sick leave per year from the date the Bill comes into effect, but rather must wait until their next sick leave anniversary. Further, the maximum current entitlement of unused sick leave has not been increased by the Bill and remains at 20 days.
The Bill is yet to receive Royal Assent and will only come into effect two months after the date Royal Assent is received.
If you would like any assistance updating your template employment agreements or any policy documents in light of these changes, please do not hesitate to contact our offices.
By Anneke Reid