Labour looks set to announce sick leave extension as poll shows strong support among Kiwis

Labour looks set to announce an extension to sick leave provisions, and Newshub can reveal exclusive poll numbers show most New Zealanders agree five days of sick leave is not enough. 

The Council of Trade Union (CTU)'s polling with UMR shows 68 percent of Kiwis polled support increasing sick leave while 53 percent think it should be doubled. 

President of the CTU Richard Wagstaff wants to see it increased from five days. 

"Too many people can't afford to be sick. That means they go to work when they are sick and risk spreading their viruses," he told Newshub on Thursday. 

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said, "We don't want sick leave to be a barrier to people staying home from work if they are ill."

The Labour Party has not announced any policies on sick leave yet, but questions from Newshub have led to MPs accidentally letting way too much slip. 

"It's something we are discussing at the moment," Labour MP and Employment Minister Willie Jackson told Newshub. "Extra five days is the view at the moment." 

Labour MP Paul Eagle said he'd like to see it doubled. 

"Ten days would be great and let's hope that the next Government does that."

Labour MP Paul Eagle.
Labour MP Paul Eagle. Photo credit: Newshub

Labour MP and Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi added, "I think it's something that's being looked at and I would prefer you asked someone with a bit more knowledge."

Someone with a bit more knowledge could be the man with the money - Finance Minister Grant Robertson - but when asked if Labour is going to announce a sick leave provision this weekend, he said "good try". 

Health Minister Chris Hipkins wouldn't give much away. 

"That is not a matter for me and it's not a matter for today."

Newshub asked the Health Minister if Labour will have a sick leave policy.

"I will see you on the campaign trail."

In other words, 'watch this space'.

It's a policy already announced by the Greens.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson. Photo credit: Newshub

"It's really easy as a parent, for example, to use that up really quickly," Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson told Newshub. 

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters believes five days is not enough. 

"It depends on the person you're talking about... For some people, no, it's not." 

But it seems like his caucus missed the memo, because NZ First MP Mark Patterson said New Zealanders have plenty of sick leave. 

Labour MP Willie Jackson.
Labour MP Willie Jackson. Photo credit: Newshub

"We've got plenty of sick leave... Productivity! Got to get the economy back up and running."

NZ First MP Tracey Martin wasn't quite sure how much sick leave people have. 

"What have they got now? Three days is what I thought they had - five days, possibly."

Businesses are wary of the cost of giving more than five days. 

"Increasing sick leave right now would be really challenging for businesses that are already struggling," Business NZ chief executive Kirk Hope told Newshub.

"It's going to impose quite a lot of cost on business and businesses are already struggling, so whilst it might be something worthwhile considering, right now I don't think it would be the right thing to do because of the cost to business."  

It's wariness shared by some National MPs like Nick Smith. 

"We have to be careful we are not imposing too many costs on businesses at a time when we really want businesses to grow."