Leave guidance

The Ministry of Health provides information on caring for those who have, or may have, COVID-19 at home and requirements for anyone who is a contact of a COVID-19 case.

This section outlines the recommended approach to leave and pay for the following situations:

Self-isolating or caring for a dependant who is self-isolating on public health advice

Employees should be supported to comply with public health requirements if they are a contact of a COVID-19 case. If required to self-isolate on public health advice, employees should not come into the workplace and should work from home wherever possible.

Where it is not possible for an employee to work from home, or to cover periods of unavailability for work, employees should receive paid special leave, paid at normal rates.

The duration of this special leave should be capped at the duration of self-isolation required of a vaccinated person. 

If an employee is required to self-isolate after the period of special leave has been exhausted, annual leave or leave without pay applies for the remainder of the self-isolation.

This period of special leave may be extended at the agency’s discretion if the employee’s individual circumstances warrant it.

Sick with COVID-19 or caring for dependant who is sick with COVID-19

Sick leave or domestic/dependant leave should be provided in line with the employment agreement. If the employee has insufficient sick leave, agencies’ usual policies relating to discretionary sick leave apply.

Vulnerable employee does not consider they can work safely in the workplace

Agencies should:

  • consider the risk to the employee, those in their household, and other people in the workplace, taking into account the agency’s health and safety risk assessment and vaccination policy, if in place;
  • discuss the risk assessment with the employee, including the controls that are in place for their safety;
  • discuss if there are any other reasonable controls or actions by the employee that could help them to feel safer within the workplace;
  • determine an appropriate response in line with employer and employee duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and public health advice from the Ministry of Health;
  • if the parties cannot agree, treat the situation as a work from home request and apply the employer’s usual policy;
  • where it is not possible for an employee to work remotely, try to address the employee’s concerns as far as possible and ask the employee to attend work or agree to a leave arrangement such as annual leave or unpaid special leave.
Dependant requires additional care

There may be occasions where an employee is required to provide care for a dependant whose usual care is unavailable, for example the temporary closure of a dependant’s school or early learning centre.

In this situation, employees should work from home as much as possible. Where the employee cannot work from home, or is only partially available for work, dependant leave in line with the employment agreement should be provided. Agencies can consider special paid leave instead or where dependant leave has been exhausted if warranted in the circumstances.

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