Leave

If you’re working full-time or part-time, you are entitled to at least:

Part-time employees are entitled to a pro-rata amount of the full-time annual leave and paid personal / carer’s leave entitlements. These amounts are based on their ordinary hours of work. They have the same unpaid carer’s leave, compassionate leave and unpaid parental leave entitlements as full-time workers.

Some employees may also be entitled to long service leave.

On public holidays, employees who would usually be working that day are entitled to a day off with pay. There are exceptions where an employer can request an employee to work. However the request needs to be reasonable. See Reasonable requests to work for details.

Full-time and part-time employees are also entitled to community service leave.

If you’re employed under an award or agreement you may be entitled to more leave, but you can’t get less than the National Employment Standards.

If you’re a casual you’re not entitled to paid personal leave or paid annual leave under the National Employment Standards. You are entitled to:

  • 2 days unpaid carer’s leave (when needed)
  • 2 days unpaid compassionate leave (when needed)
  • community service leave (except paid jury service)
  • reasonably seek a day off on a public holiday
  • parental leave in some cases.

Any award that applies might have extra leave entitlements. See the Casual employees section for more information.

If you’re a full-time or part-time employee, you should get paid your base rate of pay for the hours you would normally have worked during that time. This doesn’t include any penalty rates, allowances or overtime.

Some agreements or awards state that an employee gets paid at a higher rate when they are on annual leave. This could be ‘annual leave loading’ or the penalty rates you might normally be paid when you work.

Leave adds up progressively during the year based on your ordinary hours of work. Your employer should be able to tell you how much leave you have at any time.

Since leave begins accruing from the day you start work, even after only a short period of time you will have accumulated some annual leave. You can use the Leave calculator to work out how much leave you should have.

Remember taking annual leave is generally by agreement between you and your employer.

If you’re employed under an agreement or award your entitlements may be different.

It’s up to you and your employer to agree on when you can take annual leave and how much you can take. However, some awards and agreements let your employer tell you to take annual leave at certain times, such as:

  • during a period of shut down (eg. between Christmas and New Year)
  • if you have a large amount of annual leave that you haven’t taken.

If you’re covered by an award or agreement you should check it. An employer can only tell you to take annual leave if this is covered in the award or agreement.

If you aren’t covered by an award or agreement, your employer may be able to tell you to take annual leave as long as the request is reasonable. See Directing an employee to take annual leave for details.

You don’t normally take or accrue leave while you are on workers compensation.

However, if it’s allowed under a workers compensation law in your state or territory then you can take or accrue leave.

You should always check with the Occupational health and safety agency in your State or Territory.

It’s our view that you can’t take or accrue personal or annual leave while on workers compensation in NSW, VIC, WA, ACT or NT.

In Tasmania you don’t accrue leave when you’re on workers compensation, but you may be able to take annual leave that you’ve already accrued.

In Queensland you can accrue and take personal and annual leave.

In SA you can’t take or accrue personal or annual leave, but you may be entitled to be paid for annual leave that would have accrued.

If you’re covered by an award or an agreement you should also check it first - conditions may be slightly different.

If you’re covered by an award or agreement you can only cash out annual leave if the award or agreement has a clause that says you can. An award or agreement can have it’s own requirements for cashing out leave.

If you’re not covered by an award or agreement you and your employer can agree to cash out your annual leave. The following rules apply:

  • when you cash out leave, you must be paid at least the same amount you would have been if you had taken the leave
  • you must keep a balance of at least 4 weeks paid annual leave
  • there must be a separate agreement in writing each time you cash out leave 

Your award will explain the rates that you should be paid while you’re on leave. If it doesn’t, or if you’re not covered by an award, your personal leave should be paid your base rate of pay. You should be paid for the hours you would normally work during that time.

The base rate means the rate without any loadings, penalty rates, allowances or overtime. So if you take personal leave on a weekend you should be paid your base rate without the weekend penalty rates you’d usually get for working on the weekend.

If you’re covered by an agreement you need to check it for your conditions.

Under the National Employment Standards (NES) when you take sick leave an employer can request evidence to confirm you were sick on that day.

Medical certificates or statutory declarations are examples of evidence that you can give to your employer.

Generally an employer is able to request this evidence any time you access your sick leave entitlements. An award or agreement may say something different, so you should also check your award or agreement.

Annual leave and personal/carer’s leave are 2 separate entitlements. This means if you fall sick when you’re on annual leave you may be able to use personal/carer’s leave instead of annual leave.

If you use your personal/carer’s leave you need to tell your employer as soon as possible that you’re unwell. You should also give them evidence if they ask for it.

If you work full-time or part-time and have been in the job for 12 months, you're entitled to 12 months unpaid parental leave if you have a responsibility to care for the child.

Casual employees are also entitled to 12 months unpaid parental leave if they have been regularly working with an employer for at least 12 months.

You could be entitled to paid parental leave under an agreement or contract. You should check the terms to find out if there is an entitlement.

There is also a government-funded paid parental leave scheme. This entitles you to paid leave (at the rate of the national minimum wage) for a maximum of 18 weeks. You can use this before, at the same time, or after any other leave you have.

Your employer may also pay you extra paid parental leave under an agreement or contract.

The National Employment Standards give you 2 days of ‘compassionate leave’. You can take this if someone in your family dies.

Full-time and part-time employees are entitled to be paid for the hours they would have worked during the leave. Casual employees are entitled to unpaid leave only.

You can also take compassionate leave to spend time with someone in your immediate family or household who is critically sick or injured.

Find out more:

Long service leave is generally governed by state and territory laws. It is usually taken after 10 or more years of continuous service. If you leave your job, you are usually paid out any long service leave that you haven’t taken.

If you are employed under an award or agreement you should check what it says.

Find out more:

Permanent Employees

Your permanent full-time employees are generally entitled to at least:

Permanent part-time employees are entitled to a pro-rata amount of the full-time annual leave and paid personal / carer’s leave entitlements. These amounts are based on their ordinary hours of work. They have the same unpaid carer’s leave, compassionate leave and unpaid parental leave entitlements as full-time workers.

Some employees may also be entitled to long service leave.

On public holidays, employees who would usually be working that day are entitled to a day off with pay. There are exceptions where an employer can request an employee to work. However the request needs to be reasonable. See Reasonable requests to work.

Permanent full-time and part-time employees are also entitled to community service leave.

Casual Employees

Your casual employees are entitled to:

  • 2 days unpaid carer’s leave (when needed)
  • 2 days unpaid compassionate leave (when needed)
  • community service leave (except paid jury service)
  • reasonably seek a day off on a public holiday
  • parental leave in some cases.

You can ask your employees to give you evidence that shows the reason they took personal leave.

Evidence can include a medical certificate, statutory declaration or anything else that would satisfy a reasonable person.

If your employee can’t give you evidence, then you don’t have to pay them for the sick day, but you do have to pay them for the public holiday.

An award or agreement may include terms about the kind of evidence an employee must provide to be entitled to the leave.

No, full-time employees should get at least 10 days personal leave each year. Part-time employees get a pro-rata (proportionate) amount of personal leave. This means that their entitlements are based on the number of hours they work. See casual, full-time and part-time work for more information.

Employees have to get these minimum entitlements, even if they sign a contract that says they get less.

Personal leave includes sick leave and carers leave. This applies to all employees in the national system. Find out more in our personal, carers’ and compassionate leave section.

Yes, sick leave (called personal / carer’s leave) and annual leave accumulate from year to year. Any personal or annual leave that isn’t used carries over to the next year.

See the personal leave and annual leave sections for more information about calculating leave entitlements.

An employee can access their personal/carer’s leave entitlement if they’re not fit for work because of a personal illness or injury.

Whether an employee is fit for work when going to a pre-arranged medical appointment or after having elective surgery depends on their individual circumstances.

Employers can ask for evidence that an employee is unfit for work to determine if an employee should be paid for personal/carers’ leave. Evidence can include medical certificates and statutory declarations.

You should also check your award or agreement to see if it has more beneficial entitlements for employees.

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Page last updated: 22 Sep 2013