More than half of Kiwi workers are choosing to work from home when feeling unwell instead of using their sick leave, according to a recent survey.
And it's a trend that's set to cost employers even more when sick leave entitlement doubles from five to 10 days this weekend.
The survey, conducted by Frog Recruitment this month, found 56 per cent of respondents said they used their work-from-home privileges instead of their sick leave entitlements when feeling under the weather.
Of the more than 250 surveyed, 28 per cent said they have taken more sick leave due to having Covid-19 symptoms since the first lockdown.
Shannon Barlow, Frog Recruitment managing director, said employees continuing to work from home when sick was coming at a high price for employers.
"Ultimately there's a huge cost to the employer when the wrong leave pass is redeemed," she said.
"Sick leave accrues for employees who are in fact sick, but choose to work from home away from their colleagues. Employers are still having to pay for sick leave entitlements and, from this Saturday, they will need to dig even deeper to cover the new legal entitlement from five - to 10 sick days every year."
Barlow said the survey reveals a grey area for employers managing their workforce's sick leave, despite the new model of adapting to flexible work policies being largely beneficial for employers and employees.
"Our best advice is to be fair to your employer and transparent with your manager - if you're using work-from-home privilege to hibernate at home because your throat is scratchy, then inform them. Reasonable managers will agree that if the throat tickle develops into a more sinister cold, then is the time to activate your sick leave. That's what it's there for," Barlow said.
Barlow said the information they were getting from clients was that they were seeing an increase in sick leave since 2020 due to mental health problems.
She said the new 10-day entitlement "was a step in the right direction to support people bearing stress in pandemic times."
"Managers who understand that time away from the office is vital to not only our physical health but also our mental health, are protecting the health and wellbeing of their workforce," Barlow said.
"Unplugging from work in a physical and technology sense will also mean people experience less stress typically caused by being constantly 'on call' for the next job that pops up on our screens."
Barlow also urged employers to support workers to access Covid-19 vaccinations and provide time off work to receive both vaccinations in work hours, without using annual leave or losing pay.