Managing sick or carer's leave

All employees can take paid sick or carer’s leave unless they are a casual employee or a contractor.

Your employees might need to take sick or carer’s leave when they:

  • have a personal illness or injury
  • are stressed
  • are pregnant, or have a pregnancy related illness
  • need to support an immediate family member who is sick, injured or has an unexpected emergency
  • require compassionate leave, sometimes called bereavement leave, for events such as attending a funeral.

What do I need to know as an employer?

All employees are covered by the national workplace relations system under the Fair Work Act 2009.

Here are some of the key details:

  • Know your employees’ entitlements
    • full time employees get 10 days each year of sick or carer’s leave.
    • part time employees get pro rata of 10 days each year of sick or carer’s leave—this depends on their hours of work.
    • casual employees or contractors do not get any sick or carer’s leave.
  • Pay your employee their base rate of pay for the ordinary hours they would have worked during the period.
  • As an employer, you can ask an employee to give evidence to confirm why they have been away from work at any time, however you might have a specific policy about when certificates are required (e.g. if the period of leave is more than one business day). Remind your employees that a medical certificate doesn't have to give exact details about the injury or illness.
  • An employee can take an extended period of unpaid sick leave. The Fair Work Ombudsman has more information on long periods of sick leave and unpaid carer's leave.

Tip: Business owners get sick too, so it’s a good idea to cover yourself for accident and sickness insurance through a private insurer. This policy will compensate you for loss of revenue while you recover. Read more about this in our insurance topic.

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