New Covid Community Case Shows Why Retail Workers Need Sick Leave And Safe Staffing – First Union


Today’s announcement of a new case of community transmission of Covid-19 in Auckland is a vital reminder of why an increase to statutory sick leave for retail workers is more necessary than ever, but employers must also do their part to ensure safe staffing levels and reduce the risk of people working while sick, FIRST Union said today.

“Today’s case of community transmission confirms that the Government must expedite their plans to increase sick leave to ten days per year,” said Ben Peterson, FIRST Union National Coordinator for Retail.

“It’s now urgent – at this point in the year, many retail workers in particular have already used up their sick leave and financial pressures mean many feel obligated to go to work unless they are totally incapacitated.”

“While everyone wants to follow public health advice and do their part to limit the spread of Covid-19 in New Zealand, financial hardship and a culture of covering for your colleagues in retail means the risk is high.”

“But it’s just as important that employers, particularly in the retail sector, are ensuring that there are safe staffing levels in stores so that workers don’t feel like they’re letting the team down if they need to take sick leave, even as a precaution.”

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“Retail workers are telling us that the culture relies on guilt – workers are made to feel responsible for inadequate staffing levels and are often pressured to cover for each other when the real responsibility lies with the employer to provide safe staffing levels.”

“Safer staffing means safer communities, especially in the context of a global pandemic.”

“FIRST Union will be talking to all employers about safe staffing across our sectors as part of our upcoming bargaining and negotiations.”