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To Sick Leave Or Not To Sick Leave?

Annual What’s My Rate? Report reveals attitudes amongst waged industrial sector workers on sick leave, mental health, and earnings

New Zealand workers in the industrial and trades sectors are hesitant to take sick leave, with around two out of five workers (38 percent) saying it is unlikely that they would take sick leave if they felt ill. A further third (34 percent) were unsure if they would, while only 28 percent say it is likely for them to take sick leave.

These findings come from the What’s My Rate? Industrial and Trades Wage Report 2021 released today by OneStaff, New Zealand’s largest provider of onsite staff for the industrial industries.

The report gauges work attitudes, experiences, and remuneration from over 6000 New Zealanders in the industrial and trades sectors: manufacturing, production and logistics; commercial and hospitality; trades and services; construction and infrastructure; and engineering. The report includes a wage index providing median remuneration benchmarks that are useful for businesses, employees, and jobseekers alike.

Sick leave

The reasons cited for not taking sick leave focus on the workplace being too busy with not enough staff or skills availability to cover an employee's leave.

The reasons that people are hesitant to take sick leave included*

  • 53 percent – There was not enough other staff at work.
  • 49 percent – There was too much work on to take time off.
  • 34 percent – They were the only ones with a certain skill in their workplace.
  • 26 percent – They were running out of paid sick leave.
  • 15 percent – They were saving sick leave for when kids are sick.

*Participants were asked to choose their top three reasons for not taking sick leave, so percentages will not add to 100%

“The hesitancy to take sick leave was quite surprising, especially as there’s been so much public health messaging around staying home when unwell. However, the reasons cited for not taking sick leave were due to staffing shortages and heavy workloads, which shows that Kiwi workers are very dedicated to the success of their workplaces and to their colleagues,” said Jonathan Ives, Chief Executive Officer, OneStaff.

“From a busines owner perspective, these results show that it’s really important to have some contingency planning in place for staff leave – and to make sure you can provide cover for vital jobs to keep your operations going.”

Mental health

The three largest workplace factors that impacted people’s mental health were:

bad relationships at work (37 percent), too many hours at work (29 percent), and respondents’ immediate bosses or managers (25 percent).

“As we can see from the results, relationships matter. When these turn sour, they top the list of

biggest mental health impacts. For employers this means that greater care should be taken to discover, mediate and deal with poor relationships between staff to ensure they don’t have wider negative consequences. For employees, especially managers, putting effort into your work relationships will pay dividends in your own and your team’s happiness,” says Ives.

As a recruitment expert, Ives advises that: “When looking for a job, your people skills and ability to work in a team really matters. We should be prioritising this in interviews, as hard skills can be learnt but personalities or soft skills are harder to change.”

Wage rates

Northland continues to offer the highest average wage in the country at $27 per hour, which is largely due to the strong on-site engineering sector in Northland. Auckland and Christchurch remained stationary at $25 per hour, allowing Wellington and the West Coast to overtake them – showing stronger than average wage growth, bringing them both to $26 per hour.

To download the full report, including industry-specific summaries, please visit

© Scoop Media

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