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Are we really 39% sicker?

Paula Bennett MP National Party Associate Industrial Relations Spokeswoman

16 May 2006

Are we really 39% sicker?

National Party Associate Industrial Relations spokeswoman Paula Bennett is calling on Labour to deny that a 39% increase in sick leave for some industries is a direct result of its clumsy Holidays Act changes.

"Employer statements that it is costing more than $17 million in wage-bill blowouts are an inevitable consequence of a poorly designed policy that provides for relevant daily pay, including bonuses and overtime, even when an employee is sick.

"One union has told the Otago Daily Times they do not 'blame some of these people for taking a couple of days off'.

"Employers don't have a problem if people take a couple of days off through genuine illness, but even Labour must start to question a 39% increase for some industries.

"Of course it is the employer that directly picks up the tab, but in the long run it's the economy that suffers, as businesses are forced to pay for non-productive staff who aren't turning up for work.

"Salary and wage earners should rightly expect to be rewarded for their efforts with a fair pay packet, and get reasonable time off when necessary.

"But the unions should be very careful about defending what amounts to a rort of Labour's loose employment laws," says Ms Bennett.


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