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Published: 2017-12-06 12:00:00

At Waikato Regional Council staff have got each other’s backs.

That’s evident in the culture of donating sick leave to staff suffering long term illnesses and a recent fundraiser organised by colleagues for single mother of two Debbie Peters, who has incurable cancer.

Leading from the top is council chief executive Vaughan Payne who threw his support behind Movember to raise money for men’s health.

Mr Payne is now putting the style of shave for his beard in the hands of staff, with money raised through the vote going towards Ms Peters’ treatment fund. Staff will select from two superhero themed styles.

“We have an environment where staff care for others, and when times are tough we come together to show that,” My Payne said.

“That’s demonstrated through our sick leave donation scheme where staff recognise that some workmates need more sick leave than others.”

The scheme was announced in December 2015 to give regional council staff an opportunity to help colleagues facing financial hardship when they’d exhausted their paid sick leave entitlements, but still needed extended time off due to ill health, Mr Payne said.

“There’s no obligation for staff to make the donation, it’s entirely voluntary. But we’ve had an amazing response, with more than 2100 hours donated in the first two years – an average of 5 hours per staff member – and more than 960 hours used so far.”

He said there is strict criteria around the scheme – it can only be used in exceptional circumstances, must be authorised by the chief executive and is especially for people with either their own or their dependant’s long term ill health.

My Payne also pointed to last month’s carnival fundraiser organised by colleagues of Ms Peters, a long time business support officer with stage 4 metastatic incurable breast cancer. The event was held at the Hamilton Gardens and raised almost $17,000.

Ms Peters’ family has also set up a give-a-little page to help fund a 20-month treatment programme. Her page is at