Disregarded sick leave for teachers and principals

Disregarded sick leave for teachers and principals

If a teacher or principal tests positive for COVID-19, they will automatically be required to isolate for a period of time specified by Public Health.  If the teacher or principal is required to take sick leave during this isolation period, they can apply for that sick leave to be disregarded and credited back to them at the end of their period of sick leave under the conditions of their employment agreement.

What is disregarded sick leave

Disregarded sick leave allows sick leave, in specific circumstances, to be recredited to a teacher or principals’ sick leave entitlement. Only leave entered as sick leave may be disregarded. 

If a teacher or principal tests positive for COVID-19, they are automatically required to isolate for a period of time by Public Health. If the teacher or principal is required to take sick leave during the period they are instructed to isolate, they may request that their school or kura apply for disregarded sick leave on their behalf when they return to work. 

This applies only when the teacher or principal has contracted COVID-19. Disregarded sick leave does not apply to sick leave taken to care for dependents, or to discretionary paid leave. 

Who is eligible

Teachers and principals are eligible for disregarded sick leave. Disregarded sick leave is a contractual entitlement which is provided in all Primary, Secondary, and Area School Teachers’ and Principals’ employment agreements. It only applies when the teacher or principal is sick with COVID-19 themselves. This does not apply to domestic sick leave or discretionary leave.

Disregarded sick leave is available for the period that the teacher or principal was infectious as indicated by the Ministry of Health timeframe to self-isolate.  If they continued to be unwell beyond that date, but were no longer infectious, then their ongoing sick leave is not eligible to be disregarded.

Fixed term and relief teachers who have work booked at your school may also be granted disregarded sick leave where they have been sick with COVID 19 when otherwise expected to work. To process the reliever’s sick leave, the school needs to complete a Novo12 form.  

The same application process for disregarded sick leave that applies to permanent employees should be used for relievers.  It is important to note that this is a unique response to the demands being felt as a result of COVID-19.

How much sick leave can be disregarded?

Disregarded sick leave is typically available for up to the number of days for which the teacher or principal is required to isolate upon testing positive for COVID-19, as per Public Health advice.  

Disregarded sick leave is available for the period the applicant continued to be infectious with COVID-19 and was required to isolate. For applications for disregarded sick leave in excess of the standard isolation period, evidence of ongoing infection may be required.  

Long COVID symptoms 

Some people may experience ‘long COVID’ symptoms; that is, continuing to experience symptoms of their acute COVID-19 infection, 12 weeks after their initial infection (90 days).  

Disregarded sick leave does not usually apply for sick leave taken as a result of long COVID symptoms beyond the initial infectious period of the person’s acute COVID-19 infection. This is because long COVID symptoms are treated like other non-infectious long term health conditions, where disregarded sick leave does not apply.  

The only exception to this is where the person’s ongoing COVID illness can be directly traced to their employment, such as where genome sequencing, or Ministry of Health contact tracing, has confirmed the teacher was infected at school as opposed to in the wider community.  

Reinfection with COVID-19  

There will be cases where teachers and principals recover from their initial infection with COVID-19, return to work, and then contract COVID-19 for a second (or further) time.  

Current Public health guidance on isolation and testing after you have contracted COVID-19 initially can be found here - Isolating after COVID-19

Where schools and kura have applied for disregarded sick leave for a second (or further) time on behalf of their teachers and principals within 90 days of the first (or most recent) infection, evidence of the requirement to isolate will be required. 

Schools and kura should seek evidence that the teacher or principal has tested positive for COVID-19 for a second time and is required to take sick leave during the period they are instructed to isolate. This should be stored by the school or kura as part of the teacher or principal’s personnel records. 

Scenarios for applying disregarded sick leave
Situation Leave type Further actions
A teacher or principal is required to self-isolate due to public health advice, such as being a household contact. The teacher or principal has not contracted COVID-19.  If the teacher or principal is unable to work from home, the absence should be recorded as discretionary paid leave Disregarded sick leave does not apply. 
A teacher or principal has contracted COVID-19 and returns to school within 14 calendar days (including weekends).  Any required absence should be recorded as sick leave.  Schools and kura can apply for disregarded sick leave on behalf of their teachers and principals once they return to work. 
A teacher or principal has contracted COVID-19 and is absent for 15 calendar days or more Any required absence should be recorded as sick leave.

Schools and kura can apply for disregarded sick leave on behalf of their teachers and principals once they return to work. 

 

The Ministry of Education will request further evidence when assessing this application for disregarded sick leave. This evidence may include written advice from a registered medical practitioner confirming the teacher or principal was infectious with COVID-19 for day 15 and beyond of their infection

A teacher or principal has continued to experience symptoms of their acute COVID-19 infection beyond 90 days (sometimes referred to as long COVID symptoms). Any required absence should be recorded as sick leave.

Schools and kura can apply for disregarded sick leave on behalf of their teachers and principals using the online form for the initial infectious period.  

 

Long COVID symptoms will be treated like other non-infectious long term health conditions, i.e., sick leave should be recorded. Disregarded sick leave does not generally apply.  

A teacher or principal has developed new COVID-19 symptoms within 90 days of first testing positive.

Follow the Ministry of Health public health guidance

Isolating after COVID-19

 

Any required absence should be recorded as sick leave. 

Schools and kura can apply for disregarded sick leave on behalf of their teachers and principals if they were required to isolate during this period. 

 

The Ministry of Education will request further evidence when assessing applications for secondary infections. This evidence may include written advice from public health confirming the teacher or principal was infectious with COVID-19 and was required to isolate.

A teacher or principal has developed new COVID-19 symptoms after 90 days of first testing positive.

Follow public health guidance -Isolating after COVID-19.  

 

Any required absence should be recorded as sick leave.

Schools and kura can apply for disregarded sick leave on behalf of their teachers and principals. 

 

The Ministry of Education may request further evidence when assessing applications for secondary infections. This evidence may include written advice from public health confirming the teacher or principal was infectious with COVID-19 and was required to isolate

 

 

How to apply

When they return to work, the affected teacher or principal must ask their school or kura to apply for disregarded sick leave on their behalf.

The school or kura must submit a completed online application form, which will then be sent to the Ministry of Education.

Online application form

Instructions

1
Evidence of teacher or principal's COVID-19 positive test result

Schools and kura should seek evidence that the teacher or principal has tested positive for COVID-19 and is required to take sick leave during the period they are instructed to isolate. This should be stored by the school or kura as part of the teacher or principal’s personnel records.
The evidence could be:

  • confirmation of a positive test result and text messages from Public Health or the Ministry of Health, or
  • advice from a registered medical practitioner.

As part of the online form, the school or kura is required to attest that the teacher or principal has provided evidence that they have been diagnosed with COVID-19. In some instances, we may request evidence that the period of leave was due to the teacher or principal contracting COVID-19.
 

2
Fill in the online application form

Online application form

Schools and kura will need to use their Education Sector Login to complete the online application form.

To access the application form, users will need to update their Education Service Login (ESL) credentials. This update only needs to happen once, and quick step-by-step instructions can be found below.

Download
Download
ESL instructions
How to give application roles for your users in ESL
How to give application roles for your users in ESL

Further assistance or queries

If you have questions or need further assistance, email dsl.covid19@education.govt.nz.

If your issue is in regards to your Education Service Login (ESL), email service.desk@education.govt.nz or phone 0800 422 599.