Support workers keep 14 days of sick leave after ERA win

ERA says extra four days were a 'special benefit'

Support workers keep 14 days of sick leave after ERA win

Support workers at healthcare provider Access Community Health have secured 14 days of paid sick leave after winning a case at the Employment Relations Authority (ERA).

The disagreement stems from the supposed number of sick leave entitlements provided to the healthcare provider's employees following the amendments of the Holiday Act.

The law doubled the number of employees' minimum sick leave entitlements from five days to 10 days. However prior to the amendments, the Public Service Association (PSA) and E tū pushed for an extra four sick days for Access employees.

With the Holiday Act amended, these support workers should receive a total of 14 days of sick leave entitlements, according to the unions. The healthcare provider, however, argued that the support workers should only get 10. It said the extra four days previously provided have "effectively been subsumed by/within the increased minimum entitlement."

'No hesitation'

The ERA, citing the collective agreement among the parties, ruled in favour of the unions.

"Given the wording of the collective agreement, I have no hesitation in finding that the four days sick leave provided for… is a type of special benefit and was intended by both parties to be in addition to the statutory minimum entitlement to sick leave," said ERA member Claire English in the ruling.

According to English, the extra sick days were not provided to meet the objectives set out in Holidays Act, but to "recognise the value of collective bargaining."

"Union members continue to be entitled to an extra four days sick leave per annum in addition to the statutory minimum entitlement to sick leave provided for under the Holidays Act 2003," English said.

Welcome development

The PSA and E tū welcomed the determination by the ERA in a statement. Lesley Harry, organiser for the PSA Te Pūkenga Here Tikanga Mahi, said the additional four days of sick leave are important for support workers.

"Our workers are still amongst the lowest paid in our community, but it is still fantastic news that the extra sick leave has been protected. Today's determination properly recognises the valuable work our members do to help people continue to live independently at home," Harry said in a statement.

The win also recognised the importance of sick leave for workers and the vulnerable people they support, according to E tū team leader Alicia Stanaway.

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