Pandora New Zealand workers told not to call in sick over 'very busy' Christmas period

Kiwis working at one of the world's largest jewellery chains have been told not to call in sick over the next three weeks since it's a "very busy time of the year".

Staff at several Pandora franchises were told to watch a video featuring Joseph Howley, the director of Howley Group which franchises 12 Pandora stores across New Zealand and Australia. One person then forwarded the video to Newshub.

"Hi everyone, this is Joseph Howley, the director of the business," the video begins.

"We're going onto a very busy time of the year, and it's so important to me, okay. You are very important to this business - don't call in sick, okay?

"I need your full support, is that clear?"

Workplace Relations Minister Michael Wood says Howley's message is dangerous.

"So, what I've seen is absolutely wrong," he told Newshub. "It's wrong legally, it's wrong in terms of how we expect people to behave during this COVID period, and I've taken action by contacting the company directly."

Howley's video comes the day after the Government launched its new COVID-19 summer ad campaign, where the key message is to stay home if you're sick.

"Of course, most importantly of all, stay home if you're feeling sick," Health Minister Chris Hipkins said on Sunday.

Howley said in the video if staff wanted to call in sick, they needed to contact him personally.

"If anyone is calling in sick, cancelling shifts, I need to know about this, you need to talk to me directly."

First Union Retail secretary Tali Williams says this requirement will deter people from staying home if they feel unwell.

"The thought of having to call the CEO, the executive director, in order to be able to get sick leave is going to put anybody off."

Howley told Newshub he wasn't able to comment until he spoke with Pandora's head office.

Pandora says the video was directed specifically at one store in Australia and not meant for staff in New Zealand. Nevertheless, Newshub has been told by staff in New Zealand they were instructed to watch the video.

A Pandora spokesperson said: "Pandora has been made aware that a video prepared by a franchise partner is circulating amongst staff of select franchised stores across Australia and New Zealand.

"Whilst we understand that the video was directed specifically at an Australian store, addressing the franchise partner's concerns as to adherence of policy in relation to the requisite notification when staff are unwell, fundamentally the content is not aligned with our overarching approach or who we are as a brand.

"At all times, as well as throughout the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Pandora unconditionally supports, implements and enforces all vital health and safety guidelines, including the utilisation of personal leave when staff are unwell. Indeed, it is of the utmost importance to Pandora that the wellbeing of our team is prioritised.

"We have discussed this scenario with the franchise partner at length this morning. Whilst their intentions were not represented successfully in the video, we sincerely apologise to staff for any upset caused and we categorically make ourselves available to ensure that they are aware of their entitlements."