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Understanding Leave Entitlements in Australia

Updated: Aug 6, 2023

As a business owner in Australia, managing employee leave effectively is crucial for maintaining a productive and happy workforce. Navigating the different types of leave entitlements can be daunting, but having a clear understanding of each category is essential to ensure compliance with employment laws and to foster a positive work environment. In this article, we'll explore the primary leave types relevant to businesses in Australia.


1. Annual Leave

What is it: Annual leave is a common form of leave where employees are entitled to a certain number of paid days off each year.

How many days: In Australia, full-time employees generally receive 4 weeks of annual leave per year. Part-time employees receive pro-rata leave based on their hours worked.

How does it accrue: Annual leave accumulates from the first day of employment, even if an employee is in a probation period.

It also accrues during paid leave, which includes:

  • Paid annual leave

  • Paid sick and carer's leave

  • Paid family and domestic violence leave

  • Community service leave, including jury duty

  • Long service leave


However, annual leave does not accumulate during unpaid leave, such as:

  • Unpaid annual leave

  • Unpaid sick/carer's leave

  • Unpaid parental leave

  • Unpaid family and domestic violence leave.


The leave accumulates gradually during the year and any unused annual leave will roll over from year to year.

It's important to encourage your employees to take their annual leave to maintain a healthy work-life balance and prevent burnout.


2. Personal Leave

What is it: Personal Leave is a type of leave you take for personal reasons (in addition to Annual Leave). Casual employees are not entitled to paid personal leave.

There are 3 types of personal leave: sick leave, carer's leave, and compassionate leave

How many days: Full-time employees are entitled to a total of 10 days per year of sick or carers leave. The leave is pro-rata for part-time employees.

Unused sick and carer’s leave is carried over to the next year.

Employees can take carer’s leave (paid or unpaid) if they need to look after an immediate family member or household member who is:

  • sick

  • injured, or

  • affected by an unexpected emergency.


Paid sick/carer’s leave is available to full-time and part-time employees.

Casual employees are not entitled to paid sick leave or paid carer's leave.

Casual employees are entitled to 2 days of unpaid carer’s leave per occasion.

How does it accrue: Carer's leave does not accumulate (but sick leave does). Neither are paid out upon termination.


Compassionate Leave

What is it: Compassionate leave provides support to employees who need time off due to the death or serious illness of a family member or household member.

How many days: Full-time and part-time employees are entitled to two paid days of compassionate leave for each qualifying event. Casual employees are also entitled to two days of compassionate leave per occasion, but it is not paid.

How does it accrue: This leave does not accumulate.


3. Parental Leave

What is it: Parental leave allows eligible employees to take time off when they become parents, either through birth or adoption.

The entitlements and eligibility criteria for parental leave can be complex, so it's essential to familiarise yourself with the relevant laws and consult with Fair Work legislation.


4. Family and domestic violence leave

What is it: Family and domestic violence leave is available to employees who experience violent, threatening, or abusive behavior from a family member, causing harm or fear. It can be taken to ensure safety, attend court hearings, or access police services.

How many days: Full-time, part-time, and casual employees are entitled to 10 days of paid family and domestic violence leave each year.

How does it accrue: This leave does not accumulate.


5. Long Service Leave

What is it: Long service leave is a reward for an employee's long-term service with a company.

Did you know?? - Long service leave was first granted in the 1860's and its purpose was to allow public servants after 10 years service to sail 'home' to England or elsewhere, whilst allowing them to resume their positions upon their return.

How many days: The entitlement to long service leave varies by state or territory and is typically granted after a certain number of years of continuous service. In Tasmania, and on completion of at least 10 years’ continuous employment, employees are entitled to:

  • 8 2/3 weeks’ long service leave in respect of the first 10 years’; and

  • For each additional 5 years, 4 1/3 weeks’ long service leave.



6. Community Service Leave

What is it: Employees are entitled to community service leave in some circumstances.

Community service leave is unpaid, except for jury duty.

Voluntary emergency management activity

What is it: Community service leave for employees who engage in an activity that involves dealing with an emergency or natural disaster.


Jury Duty Leave

What is it: Jury Duty is another type of community service leave. Employees, including casual employees, can take leave to attend jury selection and jury duty.


7. Public Holidays

Public holidays are paid days off for employees and can differ depending on the state or territory. Ensure you are aware of the public holidays in your area to avoid any potential conflicts.



8. Unpaid Leave

What is it: Sometimes, employees may need to take additional time off beyond their paid leave entitlements. In such cases, they may request unpaid leave.

Be sure to establish a clear process for requesting and granting unpaid leave to maintain transparency and consistency.


So, to wrap it all up, knowing the different leave types as a business owner in Australia is important!

It's one of the key to having a happy and legally compliant workplace. When we offer our employees the right leave entitlements and make sure they have a good work-life balance, magic happens!

We'll see more loyalty, productivity, and job satisfaction, which means our business will thrive and grow. Just remember to stay updated on employment laws and don't hesitate to seek professional advice if you have any questions or concerns about leave entitlements.




Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice.

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