The Complete Guide to Carer’s Leave in Australia

Find out everything you need to know about carer's leave in Australia, from eligibility requirements to taking the leave and returning to work.
The Complete Guide to Carer’s Leave in Australia

In Australia, there are various types of paid and unpaid leave. This article provides a complete guide to sick and carer’s leave in Australia, including the minimum entitlements and when you can take this leave. 

What is Carer’s leave in Australia?

Carer’s leave in Australia (also known as personal leave) allows employees to take paid time off for an unexpected family emergency and caring responsibilities. This entitlement forms part of the National Employment Standards (NES). 

What are the minimum entitlements to paid carer’s leave?

Carer’s leave comes under the same entitlement as sick leave. You are not automatically credited with paid carer’s leave when you start a new role. Instead, the leave accrues throughout the year. Here are the number of days each type of employment is entitled to: 

  • Full-time employees: 10 paid per year of employment 
  • Part-time employees: 10 paid, pro-rata, per year of employment
  • Casual employees: 0 paid days per year of employment.

On the anniversary of your employment, any outstanding paid leave that you haven’t taken throughout the year carries over into the next year.

What are the minimum entitlements to unpaid carer’s leave?

Whether you work full-time, part-time, or casually, you’re also entitled to 2 days of unpaid carer’s leave each time a member of your immediate family requires care or support due to an illness, injury, or an emergency.

However, you can’t take unpaid carer’s leave when you could instead be paid for the leave. This rule does not apply to casuals who have no entitlement to paid personal or carer’s leave. 

When can you take carer’s leave?

Carer’s leave is there to support you while you take time off to deal with unforeseen or sudden circumstances relating to you and your immediate family. Therefore, there are only two situations when this type of leave applies. These are the following:

  1. If you are unfit for work because of a personal illness or injury (including pregnancy-related illness)
  2. You need to provide care or support to an immediate family because of an illness, injury or emergency. A member of your immediate family includes: 
  • Spouse (or former spouse)
  • De facto partner (or former de factor partner)
  • Child or parent 
  • Grandparent or grandchild 

You can also take carer’s leave to help care for your sibling or the child, parent, grandparent, grandchild or sibling of your spouse, de facto partner or former partner. 

What evidence do you need to take carer’s leave?

It’s not mandatory to provide evidence to take personal or carer’s leave. However, your employer can ask for documentation to support your request, such as a medical certificate or statutory declaration. The Fair Work Act 2009 indicates that the evidence must satisfy a reasonable person that the reason for taking the leave applies to carer’s leave.

Carer’s leave vs compassionate leave

Unlike carer’s leave, compassionate leave (also known as bereavement leave) is paid time off for when an immediate family member dies, a baby in the immediate family is stillborn, or the employee or their spouse has a miscarriage. Full time and part-time employees are entitled to 2 days of paid compassionate leave, and casual employees are entitled to two days unpaid. This type of leave does not accumulate and is separate from personal and carer’s leave. 

Your guide to personal and carer’s leave 

If you’re unsure how much carer’s leave you’ve accrued at your job it’s best to ask your employer. Also - if you’ve used all of your paid leave and need to take more time off due to an emergency, it can be a good idea to work with your manager to find alternate ways to take paid leave. For example, you might be able to take annual leave.

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