The Government is delivering on a key commitment by introducing a Bill to Parliament to expand sick leave entitlements from five days to ten days a year, Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Wood announced today.
“COVID-19 has shown how important it is to stay at home when people are sick. The Holidays (Increasing Sick Leave) Amendment Bill will mean more workers can stay at home if they’re sick, and more sick leave will help support working parents.
“The Bill also keeps the current maximum entitlement of any unused sick leave at 20 days annually, which will help make it easier for businesses to implement.
“We know businesses benefit too when their staff stay at home when they’re sick – it means bugs don’t spread, leading to fewer absences and increased productivity. Respondents to the 2015 American Working Conditions Survey who reported working while sick estimated that this reduced their productivity by around 20 per cent on average, and an Australian study has found the healthiest workers are up to three times more productive.
“While around half of all employers provide the current minimum entitlement of five days, many employers offer ten days or more already, and this will mean no change for them. But five days can be easily used up and employees who have used up their sick leave face a choice between working while sick or taking unpaid sick leave, which is not an option for many.
“Currently the Bill would not give all employees additional sick leave on the same day. Employees will receive their increased entitlement depending on when they started, allowing businesses time to prepare. The Bill also keeps the current maximum entitlement which allows any unused sick leave to be carried over up to 20 days annually.
“As promised, we’ve introduced the Bill before Christmas and it will go through a full Select Committee process. This will ensure everyone can have their say on how we can best implement this important change,” Michael Wood said.
The Bill is expected to pass in mid-2021 with any changes coming into force two months after Royal assent.