What are the Minimum Entitlements to Compassionate Leave?
An employee (including a casual employee) is entitled to two days of compassionate leave to spend time with a member of their immediate family or household who has sustained a life-threatening illness or injury. Compassionate leave may also be taken after the death of a member of the employee’s immediate family or household.
An employee may take compassionate leave for each occasion as:
- a single continuous two day period or
- two separate periods of one day each or
- any separate periods to which the employee and his or her employer agree.
What Payments are Required When Compassionate Leave is Taken?
If an employee (other than a casual employee) takes a period of compassionate leave, the employer must pay the employee at the employee’s base rate of pay for the ordinary hours they would have worked during the period.
As mentioned above, casual employees are not entitled to any paid personal/carer’s leave or compassionate leave. However, casuals are entitled to unpaid carer’s leave or compassionate leave.
Family and domestic violence leave
What are the Minimum Entitlements to Family And Domestic Violence Leave?
An employee (including a casual employee) is entitled to five days of unpaid family and domestic violence leave each year. Employees are entitled to the full five days from the day they start work. They don’t have to build it up over time.
The five days renews every 12 months but doesn’t accumulate from year to year if it isn’t used.
Employees can take the leave if they need to do something to deal with the impact of family and domestic violence and it’s impractical to do so outside their ordinary hours of work.
For example, this could include:
- making arrangements for their safety, or safety of a family member (including relocation)
- attending court hearings, or
- accessing police services.
The leave doesn’t need to be taken all at once and can be taken as single or multiple days.
An employer and employee can also agree for an employee to take less than one day at a time, or for the employee to take more than five days.
Are there notice and evidence requirements?
For all periods of personal/carer’s leave or compassionate leave, an employee must give his or her employer notice of the taking of such leave.
The notice must be given to the employer as soon as practicable (which may be a time after the leave has started), and must advise the employer of the period, or expected period, of the leave.
An employer is entitled to request evidence that would substantiate the reason for leave. A failure to either provide notice or, if required, evidence that would satisfy a reasonable person to substantiate the reasons for the leave, means the employee is not entitled to the leave.
An award or agreement may include terms relating to the kind of evidence that an employee must provide in order to be entitled to paid personal/carer’s leave, unpaid carer’s leave or compassionate leave. For example, an employer may request that the employee provides a medical certificate.
Types of evidence
Types of evidence can include:
- documents issued by the police service
- documents issued by a court
- family violence support service documents, or
- a statutory declaration.
Employers can ask employees to provide evidence for as little as one day or less off work.
Employers have to take reasonably practicable steps to keep any information about an employee’s situation confidential when they receive it as part of an application for leave. This includes information about the employee giving notice that they are taking the leave and any evidence they provide. Employers are not prevented from disclosing information if:
- it’s required by law, or
- is necessary to protect the life, health or safety of the employee or another person.
Employers need to be aware that any information about an employee’s experience of family and domestic violence is sensitive. If information is mishandled, it could have adverse consequences for their employee. Employers should work with their employees to discuss and agree on how this information will be handled.
If you require further assistance with respect to the above or would like to know more, you are welcome to contact our team of experienced lawyers by clicking here to submit an online enquiry form or call us on 1300 QUINNS (1300 784 667) or on +61 2 9223 9166 to arrange conference or appointment. You can also order a free copy of our eBook on employment and contracting in Australia by clicking here.
Employees are covered under the National Employment Standards. But are you really an employee? Read the above article on employees and contractors for more information.