Compassionate and bereavement leave

The National Employment Standards provide all employees, including casuals, with an entitlement to compassionate leave. This is also known as bereavement leave.

Awards, enterprise agreements and other registered agreements can also provide additional entitlements to compassionate leave.

Video: Compassionate leave

Watch our short video to find out:

  • when and how employees can take compassionate leave
  • when it is paid or unpaid.


When can compassionate leave be taken

Employees can take compassionate leave if:

  • a member of their immediate family or household dies, or contracts or develops a life-threatening illness or injury
  • a baby in their immediate family or household is stillborn
  • they have a miscarriage, or
  • their current spouse or de facto partner has a miscarriage.

More information is available about stillbirth, premature birth or infant death.

Immediate family

An employee’s immediate family includes their:

  • spouse or former spouse
  • de facto partner or former de facto partner
  • child
  • parent
  • grandparent
  • grandchild
  • sibling.

Immediate family also includes:

  • the immediate family of the employee's spouse or de facto partner (or former spouse or de facto partner)
  • step-relations (for example, step-parent and step-child)
  • adoptive relations.

Employees can take compassionate leave for other relatives (for example, cousins, aunts and uncles) if they are a member of the employee's household or if their employer agrees.

Amount of compassionate leave

Employees are entitled to 2 days compassionate leave each time they meet the criteria.

Employees can take compassionate leave as:

  • a single continuous 2 day period
  • 2 separate periods of 1 day each
  • any separate periods as agreed with their employer.

Employees don't accumulate compassionate leave and it's not a part of their sick and carer's leave entitlement. Employees can take compassionate leave any time they need it.

If an employee is already on another type of leave (for example, annual leave) and needs to take compassionate leave, they can use compassionate leave instead of the other leave.

Payment for compassionate leave

Full-time and part-time employees receive paid compassionate leave. They’re paid at their base pay rate for the ordinary hours they would have worked during the leave.

This doesn't include separate entitlements such as incentive-based payments and bonuses, loadings, monetary allowances, overtime or penalty rates.

Casual employees receive unpaid compassionate leave.

Compassionate leave can't be cashed out.

Notice and evidence

An employee taking compassionate leave has to give their employer notice as soon as they can (this may be after the leave has started). The employee has to tell the employer how much leave they are taking, or expect to take, and when.

An employer can request evidence about the reason for compassionate leave (for example, a death or funeral notice or statutory declaration). This request for evidence has to be reasonable. If the employee doesn't provide the requested notice or evidence they may not get compassionate leave.

Source reference: Fair Work Act 2009 s.12 and 104-106

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