Friday , November 27 2020
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Fixing Covid leave

Summary:
My column in today's Dom Post:New Zealand’s Covid-19 Leave Support Scheme took a page from Singapore’s book, but needs a few tweaks to really be effective. The scheme compensates employers, including the self-employed, if they need to self-isolate and cannot work from home.It provides excellent coverage for workers who have been required to self-isolate because they have Covid or because they have been told to self-isolate as a close contact of a case.It covers you if your child has been told to self-isolate and you need to provide support.And, for a few workers in a few critical health sectors, it also provides coverage while waiting on a test result.All of that is laudable.But if you’re a hospitality worker, or a retail clerk, or a bus driver, you will not be eligible if you’ve

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My column in today's Dom Post:

New Zealand’s Covid-19 Leave Support Scheme took a page from Singapore’s book, but needs a few tweaks to really be effective. The scheme compensates employers, including the self-employed, if they need to self-isolate and cannot work from home.

It provides excellent coverage for workers who have been required to self-isolate because they have Covid or because they have been told to self-isolate as a close contact of a case.

It covers you if your child has been told to self-isolate and you need to provide support.

And, for a few workers in a few critical health sectors, it also provides coverage while waiting on a test result.

All of that is laudable.

But if you’re a hospitality worker, or a retail clerk, or a bus driver, you will not be eligible if you’ve developed symptoms, gone to a mobile testing station, and are waiting on results. The pernicious calculus remains. Are your symptoms really that bad? How many sick days do you have left? How annoyed is the manager going to be if you need to stay home for a couple of days?

The Covid-19 leave scheme should be updated to avoid those kinds of problems. Really, it should never have had those holes in coverage in the first place.

I think it makes rather more sense than doubling the number of sick days. Or added to a doubling of the number of sick days if they really wanted to double the number of sick days. But the case around changes in sick leave entitlements should hang on non-Covid matters, with specific Covid-leave to deal with what's in front of us.  

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