The minimum leave entitlements that apply to all employees are found in the National Employment Standards (NES). These apply regardless of their position and whether a contract of employment or an award or enterprise agreement applies.  The NES creates certain rights for an employee that includes access to paid personal/carer’s leave, unpaid carer’s leave, and compassionate leave.

Paid personal/carer’s leave

Commonly referred to as ‘sick leave’ under the National Employment Standards (NES), an employee is entitled to 10 days of paid personal/carer’s leave each year. This leave accrues over the course of the year (including when the employee is on paid sick or annual leave). Any leave not taken rolls over the following year but is not paid out on termination.

This type of paid leave only applies to employees working on a full – or part-time basis. An employee may take paid personal/carer’s leave:

  • When the employee is not fit for work due to a personal illness or injury
  • To provide care or support to a member of the employee’s immediate family or household due to a personal illness or injury affecting them or an unexpected emergency affecting the member

Unpaid carer’s leave

If the employee has used up all of their paid personal/carer’s leave then they may be entitled to two days unpaid carer’s leave. Unpaid carer’s leave is available to all employees (including casuals) where a member of the employee’s immediate family or household requires care or support because of:

  • A personal illness or injury affecting the immediate family or household member
  • An unexpected emergency affecting the member

This type of leave can be taken either as a single continuous period of up to two days, or any separate periods to which the employee and employer agree. This leave does not roll over into the following year and is not paid out on termination

Compassionate leave

An employee is entitled to two days of compassionate leave for situations where a member of the employee’s immediate family or household:

  • Contracts/develops a personal illness that poses a serious threat to his or her life
  • Sustains a personal injury that poses a serious threat to his or her life
  • Dies

An employee may take compassionate leave as a single continuous two-day period, as two separate periods of one day each, or any separate periods to which the employee and employer agree. This leave does not roll over into the following years and is not paid out on termination. An employee’s immediate family member includes the spouse or de facto of the employee as well as child, parent, grandparent, grandchild or sibling of the employee.

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