Managing staff leave due to COVID-19

Managing staff leave due to COVID-19

From 15 August 2023, if a staff member at your school or kura is sick with COVID-19 they are no longer required by law to self-isolate for a specified period. 

Ministry of Health recommendations

The Ministry of Health recommends that people with COVID-19: 

  • isolate for at least 5 days and until they feel well
  • wear a mask if leaving the house
  • do not visit a healthcare facility (except to access medical care), aged residential care facility or have contact with anyone at risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

COVID-19 absences from 15 August 2023

From 15 August 2023, staff absences for COVID-19 should be managed in line with your kura or school's existing leave policies and the applicable collective agreement.

The absence should be recorded as sick leave or domestic sick leave.

Disregarded sick leave for COVID-19 mandatory isolation ended 15 August 2023

Disregarded sick leave will not apply to absences for COVID-19 isolation on or after 15 August 2023.

As such, applications for disregarded sick leave for COVID-19 isolation on or after 15 August 2023 will be declined.

Teaching, principal and some non-teaching collective agreements provide disregarded sick leave in instances where the staff member has contracted a notifiable disease listed in Part 1 of Schedule 1 of the Health Act 1956, and the staff member is either:

  • complying with direction from a Medical Officer of Health to refrain from attending school for a specified period, or
  • is prevented from attending work by a relevant Public Health Order.

Since 2020, COVID-19 has been listed as a notifiable disease listed in Part 1 of Schedule 1 of the Health Act 1956.

On 14 August 2023, the Government announced its decision to revoke the COVID-19 Public Health Response (self-isolation requirements) Order 2022, effective 15 August 2023.

As a result, mandatory isolation for individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 is no longer required by a relevant Public Health Order and therefore the condition provided in the teaching, principal and some non-teaching collective agreements is no longer met.

Disregarded sick leave applications for COVID-19 mandatory isolation for absences prior to 15 August 2023

If you have outstanding disregarded sick leave applications for absences prior to 15 August 2023, send the following information to employment.relations@education.govt.nz:

  • name of teacher(s) or principal and MoE number(s).
  • dates of absence(s) (period of absence)
  • institution (school) name and number;
  • evidence of their positive COVID-19 test result/s. (This could be a screenshot My COVID Record or similar.)

Disregarded sick leave for non-teaching staff is only available for absences which occurred after the provision was introduced into the relevant collective agreement. Refer to your collective agreement for this date.

More information