What happens if you fall sick during your annual leave NZ

Published 1 August 2023 | 2 min read

Sick leave during annual holidays

Ah, the excitement of annual leave holidays! Your hardworking employees eagerly look forward to this time off, a chance to unwind and create cherished memories with their loved ones.

But what happens if they fall sick during their well-deserved break?

As small-to-medium New Zealand managers and leaders, you understand the importance of supporting your team's well-being and navigating unexpected challenges. Let's explore what you can do if your employee faces the unfortunate situation of falling sick during their scheduled annual leave.

Picture this scenario: One of your team members has been eagerly counting down the days to their annual leave. They've planned an exciting getaway, and anticipation fills the air. However, just as their vacation commences, they, their partner, or a dependent falls ill. Suddenly, their joyous plans are replaced with worry and uncertainty. The situation can agitate both the employee and you, as their manager, as you ponder over how to handle this unforeseen setback.

Sick leave conversion

Fret not! The Employment New Zealand guidelines come to the rescue. If an employee, their spouse, partner, or dependant falls sick before their scheduled annual holidays, they have the option to convert the portion of annual holidays affected by illness into sick leave. Additionally, if sickness strikes during the employee's annual leave, they can change those specific sick days to sick leave days, provided that both parties agree.

At first glance, this situation might appear as a failure in planning, leaving the employee feeling frustrated and disheartened about their disrupted vacation. However, as a manager, you can see this as an opportunity to showcase your support and understanding of your team's well-being. Positive failure lies in how you handle the situation and create an environment of empathy and flexibility within your organisation.

The key to handling this scenario effectively lies in communication and compliance with employment regulations. If an employee falls sick during their annual leave, encourage them to inform you as soon as possible. In line with the guidelines, you have the right to ask for proof of illness before approving the conversion of annual leave to sick leave. This ensures fairness and avoids misuse of the policy.

Promoting employee well-being on annual holiday

As a manager, you can proactively foster a culture of care and support for your team's health. Encourage employees to prioritise their well-being, and ensure they are aware of the available sick leave and how it can be utilised when needed. Emphasize the importance of open communication and assure them that you are there to assist during challenging times.

Remember, unexpected illness can befall anyone, regardless of the timing. As managers, you can't control when these situations arise, but you have the power to respond with compassion and understanding. By adhering to the Employment New Zealand guidelines and being proactive in supporting your employees, you can navigate the challenges of sickness during annual leave holidays and create a positive work environment where well-being is valued.

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