The ins and outs around sick leave entitlement

Posted by: Brenda McInnes
Date: 14 July 2014

Here are the facts laid bare - who is entitled to sick leave and how much. These guidelines ensure it's not a headache when it comes to sick leave administration, whether for employees who are permanent, on fixed term agreements, or casual. 

For most employees, there is a minimum provision of five days' paid sick leave a year after the first six months of continuous employment.  And then an additional five days' sick leave after each subsequent 12-month period.

The maximum accumulation under the Act is 20 days' leave, although employment agreements can provide a more generous sick leave accumulation. 

You do not have to pay out accumulated sick leave when an employee leaves.

Most employees are entitled to sick leave whether they are under full or part-time, permanent or fixed-term contracts, providing that they have completed six months' continuous service.

The Act also provides sick leave entitlements after six months to employees whose employment is not continuous if, during those six months, they have worked for the employer for:

  •   an average of at least 10 hours per week, including
  •   at least one hour per week or 40 hours per month

People on a series of fixed-term agreements, or employees sometimes described as "casual", would become entitled to sick leave if they met this test.

Sick leave entitlements are not pro-rated in any way. For example, even if a part-time employee works three days a week, they become entitled to five days' sick leave a year after being in employment for six months. Sick leave may also accumulate to up to 20 days for part-time employees.


Brenda McInnes

Brenda McInnes heads TvA's Business Support team. The team covers daily administration for business owners, such as Payroll, GST, and ACC. If you have any questions related to sick leave entitlements send us an email at or contact Brenda on 03 578 3386.

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