Managing staff leave due to COVID-19

Managing staff leave due to COVID-19

If an employee at your school or kura is sick with COVID-19 and required to self-isolate, your first considerations should be to look after your community, reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect public health.

If your employee is sick with COVID-19 or needs to care for a dependent who is sick with COVID-19, their absence from work should be recorded as sick leave or domestic sick leave (in the same manner as time off for any other illness).

If your employee does not have enough sick leave to cover the period they are ill, you may provide additional paid discretionary or paid special leave in accordance with your usual leave policy.

Scenarios on how to apply leave are outlined further down this page.

Disregarded sick leave

If an employee is required to isolate with COVID-19, they may be entitled to request COVID-19 disregarded sick leave at the conclusion of their absence. Disregarded sick leave only applies when employee is sick with COVID-19 themselves. This does not apply to leave taken to care for dependents. Disregarded sick leave is available to teachers, principals, kaiārahi i te reo, and support staff employees of schools and kura.

Scenarios for applying leave

The scenarios outlined in the table below apply regardless of the COVID-19 Protection Framework setting your community is operating under.

Teachers and Principals

Situation Leave Type How to claim
Teacher or Principal has contracted COVID-19

If the teacher or principal is sick with COVID-19, the absence should be recorded as sick leave. 
If the teacher or principal has an insufficient sick leave balance to cover the absence, discretionary paid leave should be provided. 
The school or kura may request disregarded sick leave for the teacher or principal at the end of their absence. 

If the teacher or principal recovers from COVID-19 but is still required to self-isolate they should work from home where possible.

Sick leave should be recorded as it usually would be for any other sickness. 
To apply for disregarded sick leave, the school or kura must submit the completed online form (Link)
Schools and kura will need to hold a record of evidence that the period of leave was due to the teacher or principal contracting COVID-19.

Teacher or Principal is required to care for a dependent person who has contracted COVID-19

If the teacher needs to care for a dependent person who has contracted COVID-19, and is unable to work from home, the absence should be recorded as domestic sick leave. 

If the teacher or principal’s dependent recovers from COVID-19 but is still required to self-isolate they should work from home where possible. If working from home is not possible, they should be provided with discretionary paid leave. 

To record discretionary paid leave schools should complete a Novo12 form using the code DISCR. If you have any issues processing discretionary paid leave, please email: employment.relations@education.govt.nz. 
Schools should hold evidence for the reason of the period of that leave applies.

Support Staff

Situation Leave Type How to claim
Support staff or non-teaching staff member has contracted COVID-19

Sick leave should be recorded. 
If the staff member has insufficient sick leave to cover this period, discretionary paid leave should be provided. The school or kura may grant disregarded sick leave for the staff member at the end of their absence. 

If the staff member recovers from COVID-19 but is still required to self-isolate they should work from home where possible. If working from home is not possible, they should be provided with discretionary paid leave.

Sick leave should be recorded as usual. If the staff member is required to isolate beyond the period of their sickness they should be moved to discretionary paid leave once they are no longer sick.

To have disregarded sick leave which you have granted to support staff processed, you need to complete the online form,

To record discretionary paid leave schools should complete a Novo12 form using the code DISCR. If you have any issues processing discretionary paid leave email:
employment.relations@education.govt.nz

Schools should hold evidence for the reason of the period of that leave applies.
 

Support staff or non-teaching staff member is required to care for a person dependent who has contracted COVID-19

If the staff member is caring for a dependent who has contracted COVID-19, the leave should be recorded as domestic sick leave. 

If the staff member’s dependent recovers from COVID-19 but is still required to self-isolate they should work from home where possible. If working from home is not possible, and the staff member's domestic sick leave entitlement is exhausted, they should be provided with discretionary paid leave.

Sick leave should be recorded as usual.

To record discretionary paid leave schools should complete a Novo12 form using the code DISCR. If you have any issues processing discretionary paid leave email:
employment.relations@education.govt.nz. Disregarded sick leave does not apply to discretionary paid leave.
 

Note: Discretionary paid leave covers working days/hours the staff member would have normally worked.

Note: Disregarded sick leave means time off for sickness or injury isn’t deducted from an employee's sick leave balance. Only teachers, principals and staff covered by the Support Staff in Schools’ Collective Agreement 2022-2024 and the Kaiārahi i te Reo and Therapists’ Collective Agreement 2022-2024 (or the equivalent individual employment agreement) qualify for disregarded sick leave and it only applies where certain criteria are met.