More commonly known as ‘sick leave’, personal/carer’s leave is a paid leave entitlement that all permanent employees receive. It allows employees to take time off for personal illness or injury, and/or caring for family or household members.
Yet confusion can exist about when an employee is entitled to personal/carer’s leave – especially in light of the recent COVID-19 surge across Australia. This article will address these areas of confusion as well as outline the criteria an employee must satisfy to be entitled to personal/carer’s leave.
What is the entitlement?
Personal/carer’s leave is provided for under the National Employment Standards (NES).
It states that full-time employees are entitled to 10 days paid personal carer’s leave per year, and part-time employees will receive this on a pro-rata basis. It can also be calculated at 1/26th of an employee’s ordinary hours of work in a year.
This leave is paid at the employee’s base rate of pay – this means it does not include loadings, allowances, or overtime and penalty rates, and it will accumulate from year to year if it is not taken.
What is the eligibility criteria?
Under the Fair Work Act 2009, the NES sets out the following circumstances where an employee is eligible to take personal/carer’s leave:
- The employee is not fit for work due to a personal illness, or personal injury, affecting the employee; or
- To provide care or support to a member of the employee’s immediate family, or a member of the employee’s household, who requires care or support due to:
- A personal illness, or personal injury, affecting the member; or
- An unexpected emergency affecting the member.
Regarding carer’s leave, the NES defines an “immediate family member” as the following:
- spouse or former spouse
- de facto partner or former de facto partner
- sibling, or a
- child, parent, grandparent, grandchild or sibling of the employee's spouse or de facto partner (or former spouse or de facto partner).
For example, an employee can utilise carer’s leave when they cannot attend work because their child has fallen ill, and the employee needs to care for them until they recover.