5,000 signatures reached
To: Hon Chris Hipkins, Minister of Education
Paid pandemic-related leave urgently needed for support staff
Support staff in schools are having to use their sick leave if they contract COVID-19. This is despite working alongside teachers and principals who have access to paid leave due to COVID-19 that does not come from their sick leave balance.
Support staff – teacher aides, administrators, librarians, science technicians and therapists – receive only minimum legislative sick leave entitlements. Many have already exhausted their sick leave balance. This leaves us vulnerable. Might we be left with no income, should we need sick leave later in the year?
Why is this important?
In just one 24-hour period, more than 2,500 support staff workers contacted NZEI TRR about the effects on their mental health of not having access to pandemic related leave. That's 2,500 stories about families facing financial insecurity and concerns about their wellbeing.
NZEI Te Riu Roa shared these stories with the Ministry of Education and asked for immediate action. The Ministry’s response was that paid pandemic leave is only available for support staff at the discretion of their school or after they’ve used up their sick leave. This directly undervalues the importance of our role in schools.
Some schools have been able to provide paid discretionary leave. But we shouldn’t have to rely on the goodwill of our school to provide us with paid pandemic-related leave. Similarly, a principal shouldn’t have to divert operational grant funds simply to provide something teachers already receive.
Minister Hipkins, support staff urgently need access to paid pandemic-related leave, just like our colleagues.