Sometimes, despite the best intentions, an accident or illness can affect you or your loved ones. Such times are distressing for the individual concerned, and can also be disruptive to any business or workplace. Every situation is different, but a time could come when you are called upon to care for a close relative or household member. Fortunately, all full and part-time employees are eligible to take paid or unpaid carer’s leave in times of emergency.
Although most people like to think of themselves as independent individuals, they are still reliant on immediate family during difficult times. Carer’s leave entitlements provide the opportunity to take leave from work while looking after immediate family or household members.
Immediate family members and household members include:
- de facto partner
- any of the above related to the employees spouse
- a household member is anyone who lives with the employee
How much carer’s leave can I take?
Carer’s leave comes under the same entitlement as sick leave. It is now called personal / carer’s leave. Full-time employees are entitled to 10 days carer’s leave each year. Part-time employees are entitled to a pro rata of 10 days leave per year according to the number of hours they work. Casual employees aren’t provided paid entitlements under the personal / carer’s leave agreement, although individual employers may have their own system in place in the event of illness or emergency.
Paid carer’s leave entitlements begin to accumulate from your first day of full-time or part-time work. Any leave balance remaining at the end of the year is carried over into the following year. This accumulation continues even when you are on paid annual leave.
If your employment is for 38 hours a week or more, you are working full-time and are entitled to the full 10 days carer’s leave per year. If you are employed for 19 hours per week (exactly half the full-time amount) you will be entitled to 5 days carer’s leave per year.
Carer’s leave is provided for situations where personal care of close family or household members is required. It is not an alternative method of taking a casual break from work. Therefore, medical certificates and leave notice will need to be provided to your employer.
Emergencies are unexpected occurrences, and carers can’t always plan ahead, but you will need to notify your employer as soon as possible, even if leave has already begun due to an emergency situation. You should also specify how long you expect to be away from work, and you may be required to provide evidence to your employer in order to be paid for your leave. Medical certificates and statutory declarations are the most common types of evidence.
Carer’s leave payments
While caring for your relative or household member you will be paid at your employee base rate according to the hours you usually work. Your entitlement doesn’t include overtime pay.
The carer’s leave base rate doesn’t include:
- incentive-based payments
- penalty rates
Unpaid carer’s leave
Not everyone is entitled to paid carer’s leave, but the desire to assist close family and household members in times of need can still take priority. Therefore, all employees including casual workers are entitled to 2 days unpaid carer’s leave. This leave can be taken at times of illness, injury or for an unexpected emergency. Full and part-time employees can only get unpaid carer’s leave if they have already used up their yearly paid carer’s leave entitlement.
Depending on your needs as a carer, these 2 days can be divided into small segments. For example, you may be required to care for 4 mornings instead of 2 whole days. Carer’s leave is a compassionate arrangement legislated by Fair Work.