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Absence & ACC Q & A

Absence comes in all shapes and sizes and can seem daunting for employers to know the best way to address the issue. Try our quick Q & A to test your knowledge on how to approach these scenarios.

Yes.  As long as you advise the employee as soon as possible and agree to meet the employee’s reasonable expenses in obtaining the proof.

Unless there is a specific clause in their Employment Agreement or a policy document, there is no such thing as stress leave.  The employee is on sick leave (because they are feeling stressed), and therefore their absence is deducted from their sick leave. It is also important to note that ‘stress’ is not a medical diagnosis.  Stress may be a contributing factor for a medical condition such as high blood pressure, heart disease or headaches.  If an employee raises a concern about workplace stress your obligation under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 is to investigate the cause of this stress and manage the risks of the stress within the workplace.  Your responsibility also extends to trying to eliminate or minimise the stress, where reasonably practicable, for that particular employee.  Do not ignore the situation, or down-play it when an employee advises you that they are experiencing stress.

If an employee has used all their paid sick leave they can request they are paid annual leave for their absence.  The employer does not have to agree and cannot use the annual leave unless the employee agrees.  It is important to get any agreement in writing to prevent any future disputes.

When you are sent the ACC form advising that your employee is claiming they suffered an injury at work, you can respond to ACC stating you do not agree and the reasons why.  ACC will consider your submission and advise you of their decision.  Evidence to look for is the ‘incident/accident form’ the employee should have completed at the time of the accident.  If they didn’t complete one, require them to do so then undertake your own investigation into the matter.  This may include talking to any witnesses, consulting with CCTV (if you have it), or talking to your employee further about the incident report.   Bear in mind that all of the evidence (including notes from witnesses interviewed) should be copied and provided to the employee as well.

For the first week of absence you pay them sick leave (if they have any).  After that ACC will pay them 80% of their wages.  You can top up their wages (to 100%) and deduct one day of sick leave entitlement for every 5 days of absence, however you are not obliged to.  If the injury was a result of a work accident, the employer is obliged to pay 80% of the employee’s wages for the first week of absence and cannot deduct this from their sick leave.

Please call one of our Consultants if you would like further guidance on absence and ACC.

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