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COVID-19 Update: 12 November 2020

People in Auckland have been asked to work from home whilst authorities investigate the source of the new case of coronavirus. The individual had been to various locations across the Auckland CBD – including her workplace in a customer-facing role.

It has been revealed that the individual attempted to call in sick however her manager advised her to come in anyway and ‘just wear a mask’, an instruction she duly followed.

This incident highlights two things – firstly, we are becoming too complacent. We are in a privileged position here in New Zealand however by being complacent we are running the risk of altering that position.  No one wants to end back up in lockdown.

Secondly, employers have a responsibility to protect the health and safety of their workforce and to keep their clients and customers safe.  This individual was placed in an impossible situation – trying to do the right thing by calling in sick but as a student on a casual contract, if you are instructed by your manager to come in, you may feel like you have an impossible choice – attend work or get no further shifts.

Chris Hipkins described this situation as ‘disappointing’ and appealed to employers to ‘please be good employers, if employees are doing the right thing by calling in sick please do everything you can to accommodate your employees’.

Employers need to be clear with staff what they are required to do in the event of sickness and need to be clear with management who enforce this, as it could give rise to either a disciplinary issue or personal grievance claims.

Please contact us should you need guidance or policy surrounding the matters raised in this article.