What types of leave are there? Ask most people to name the various types of leave on offer at work, and they could probably come up with a couple, such as sick and annual. But that’s far from the full scope. Here’s Induct for Work’s guide to the types of leave available to employees, what they involve and who’s eligible.
ANNUAL LEAVEThis refers to holidays for which full and part-time employees are still paid – either with our without leave loading. The amount per year varies from industry to industry, and factors such as shiftwork can play a role, but a pretty standard figure is four weeks. This means that for every three months you work, you will accrue a week’s leave. Bear in mind payment works off your base salary, does not accrue on days when you are on unpaid leave and is also independent of public holidays. Note also that if it you become sick or injured on your annual leave, you can use sick or carer’s leave instead. Points to note
- Most businesses require you to accrue leave before taking it. But some companies will allow you to take it in advance.
- Employers don’t have to grant leave when you want it, but if they refuse there must be a reasonable reason for it.
- There is no minimum or maximum amount of leave that can or must be taken at once.
- Leave can be accrued.
- You can be directed to take annual leave in select circumstances. These include if the business shuts down over a holiday period or you have accumulated excess leave.
- In certain circumstances, you can cash out annual leave rather than taking it.
PUBLIC HOLIDAYSSome industries, such as media, require staff to work public holidays, in which case compensation is generally offered by way of extra annual leave or penalty rates. But apart from that, most employees are entitled to take off public holidays that are recognised in their home state. Employers may still ask them to work, but they are entitled to refuse, factoring in issues such as the amount of notice and their family circumstances. Points to note
- Employees are entitled to the public holidays recognised in their home state. For example, Queensland celebrates Labour Day on October 6. So if a member of the Brisbane team happened to be working in New South Wales that month, they would still be entitled to the day off.
- If a public holiday falls within your annual leave, you are still entitled to it. For example, if you are taking two weeks off in April, and they happen to coincide with Anzac Day, then you only need to claim nine days of leave, not 10, as you are still entitled to the public holiday.
COMPASSIONATE LEAVEThis is also known as bereavement leave and is open to all employees, although casuals are generally not paid for it. It can be taken when a member of the staffer’s immediate family or household dies, or suffers a life-threatening illness or injury. The standard amount available is two days in each circumstance. Points to note
- Immediate family is a spouse, de facto partner, child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, or a spouse/de facto partner’s child, parent, grandparent, grandchild or sibling
- Compassionate leave can be taken for other relatives if they are a member of the household or the employer agrees.
- It does not accrue.
- If you are on annual leave when the need for compassionate leave arises, you can substitute it in.
- Some employers require evidence, such as a funeral notice.
LONG-SERVICE LEAVEThis is effectively leave which rewards a full-time employee for staying with the same company for a substantial and uninterrupted period of time. Each state and territory has its own laws that apply, except where there is a registered agreement or federal pre-modern award (see Fairwork.gov.au). Long-service leave is paid at an employee’s ordinary pay rate, which would not generally include extras such as allowances and shift loadings. Points to note
- In some states and territories, long-serving casuals can be entitled to long-service leave. They would receive their normal casual loading.
- Long-service lust must be paid out in the event of termination.
- Some industries, such as mining and construction, have legislated for portable long service leave where employees work for the same company, but for different projects.
SICK AND CARER’S LEAVEThis kind of leave lets an employee take time off to sort out personal sickness, family emergencies or caring responsibilities. Sick leave can be used by employees – excluding casuals – when they themselves are sick. It is paid. Carer’s leave can be used when they need time off to look after an immediate family or household member or help out with a family emergency. In this case an immediate family member is defined as a spouse, de facto partner, child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, or a spouse’s child, parent, grandparent or grandchild. A household member is someone who lives with the employee. This kind of leave has both paid and unpaid provisions. All employees, bar casuals, are entitled to paid carer’s leave. All employees, including casuals, are entitled to two days’ unpaid carer’s leave each time it is needed. But full-time and part-time staff can only use it if their paid sick/carer’s leave is extinguished. Points to note
- Sick and carer’s leave entitlements are 10 days a year for full-time employees and pro rata of 10 days a year depending on their hours for part-time employees.
- Leave accumulates from one year to the next. It continues to accumulate during paid leave but not during unpaid leave.
- When paid sick leave runs out, employees can take unpaid sick leave. When this happens they can’t be fired if they have been away for three months or less, or they provide evidence of their illness or injury.
- When an employee is away for more than three months in a 12-month period, they can be lawfully dismissed in certain circumstances.
PARENTAL LEAVEThis is available to employees when they give birth, their spouse or de facto partner gives birth, or they adopt a child under 16. There are two types of paid parental leave available – from the Australian government, which offers 18 weeks’ leave at the national minimum wage – or from an employer. Having one does not rule out the other. There are a variety of entitlements available under the umbrella of parental leave, such as Dad and Partner pay, pre-adoption leave, and concurrent leave for parents who are married or in a defacto relationship. For more information visit fairwork.gov.au/Leave/maternity-and-parental-leave
WORKERS COMPENSATIONThis leave comes into play when an employee is injured at work or becomes sick due to work. It can include payments to cover wages while they’re unfit to work, and medical expenses and rehabilitation. Employers are required to take out workers’ compensation insurance. Each state has different governing bodies that oversees workers compensation.
COMMUNITY SERVICE LEAVEThis is where employees, including casuals, can take leave for activities such as jury duty and voluntary emergency management activities. There is no limit to how much they can take, but it is unpaid, apart from jury duty. The definition of voluntary emergency management duties is:
- The activity involves dealing with an emergency or natural disaster;
- The employee participates on a voluntary basis;
- The employee was either requested to take part or would have been requested if circumstances permitted; and
- The employee is a member of, or has a member-like status of, a recognised emergency body. Here, such bodies include the SES, Country Fire Authority, RSPCA.
- An employee must give a notice of absence – and their expected time of absence – as soon as possible (this can be after the leave starts).
- An employer can request evidence they’re entitled to leave.