Forced leave for New Zealand police officers

Sunday, August 1, 2010

AUCKLAND - Police bosses in New Zealand are forcing officers to go on holidays because the number of accumulated leave days would cost the economy about $200 million.

Even as the police bosses are forcing the junior officers to take leave, the forced leave is reducing the number in the forces, causing problems in maintaining law and order, the New Zealand Herald reported.

Transfers between squads and districts are, meanwhile, on hold.

“The number of annual leave days owed to officers amounted to a debt of about $200 million for the organisation,” said Wayne Annan, human resources manager at the Police National Headquarters.

Anyone who accumulated more than six weeks’ leave - including annual leave, statutory holidays, time off for working shifts and days in lieu - were directed to take time off “in order to get rest and recuperation that they need”, Annan said.

He said policing was a “high-stress job” and it was crucial officers took leave when it was owed to them.

A senior officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said some officers had “months and months” of leave owed to them but did not take it.

“Cops with crazy amounts are actually forced to go on leave,” he said.

“The reality is staff are supposed to take their leave and when they don’t, all of a sudden they’re told ‘I don’t care what you’ve got on, you’re going on leave’.”

Police bosses put pressure on staff to take leave during the winter months when it was “quieter”, the officer said.

Police Association president Greg O’Connor said he was aware of the campaign and supported officers taking time off if they were owed it.

“A lot of officers are reluctant to take leave because it means leaving their heavy workloads for their fellow officers,” he said.

“We find the more reluctant people are to take leave, the more they need it. Clearly these guys have to take leave at some stage.”

He said one of the biggest problems was court.

Officers often had their leave cancelled to attend court for cases they worked on.

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