Employer’s Sick Leave Questions Answered

employees taking sick leave, sick leave entitlements

Winter is in full swing and has bought with it the cold and flu. So what do employers need to do when their employees are too sick to work? Here is everything employers need to know when it comes to sick leave.

What is sick leave? 

Sick/carer’s leave, also called personal/carer’s leave, allows employees to take time off when they are unwell or caring for family members. Sick leave can be taken when an employee is dealing with a personal illness, if they need to care for a family member with an illness or attend to a family emergency.

What are sick leave entitlements? 

All employees, except casuals, are entitled to paid sick leave. Permanent employees are entitled to 10 days of sick leave per year for full time, pro-rata for part-time. Employee entitlements are based on ordinary hours of work, for example, if an employee works 19 hours per week, they are entitled to 38 hours of paid sick/carer’s leave per year. This can be calculated as 1/26th of an employee’s ordinary hours of work in a year.

Employees accumulate sick leave during the year, beginning on their first day of work based on their ordinary hours of work. Sick leave balance carries over year on year. Sick/carer’s leave is also accumulated when an employee is on paid leave, community service leave or long service leave, but not during periods of unpaid leave.

What about unpaid sick leave? 

Employees can take unpaid sick leave if they are not fit for work due to illness or injury. Casual employees can access two days of unpaid carer’s leave each time an immediate family member needs support. Permanent employees can only access unpaid sick/carer’s leave if they don’t have any paid leave left.

Keep in mind, employees who are away from work due to injury or illness are protected from dismissal, doing so could be a General Protections issue. If an employee has been away from work for an extended period (e.g. several months) and it is negatively impacting your business get in touch with us and we can help you work through the issue.

Can employers ask for proof of illness or injury? 

As an employer, you can request your employees provide evidence that would satisfy a reasonable person that the leave being taken was genuine, as stated in the Fair Work Act (2009). Commonly, employers require employees to provide evidence if they have taken more than two days of sick leave or the leave coincides with the weekends or public holidays, to satisfy that the leave taken is genuine. Types of evidence requested can include a medical certificate, pharmacists’ certificate or statutory declaration. What is reasonable can vary between employers and depend on the patterns of absences. For this reason, having a Leave policy outlining the acceptable use of personal leave and expectations of employees to provide evidence is important.

ProcessWorx HR Advisors have experience helping employers navigate leave and other employment issues. If you have queries about employees taking sick leave and want advice personalised to your business, contact us on (08) 9316 9896, or email enquiries@processworx.com.au.

Follow ProcessWorx on LinkedInFacebookInstagramYouTube, and Twitter to keep up with the latest HR and Safety news.

Written by Danielle McNamee



More Posts

ProcessWorx Offices

New Office!

ProcessWorx is so excited to announce that we are moving offices. The journey to our new offices has been challenging at times, but it has

HR & Safety Seeding Tips

HR & Safety Tips for Seeding

Agriculture is a unique industry with employment demands driven by peak seasonal periods like seeding and harvest. At ProcessWorx we understand that the demands on

Industrial Relations 101

Industrial Relations 101

Knowing the ins and outside of employment relations legislation isn’t high on many business owners’ priority lists, however, it is vital to running a business.

Contact us for help

Contact Us

Start your HR or Safety assessment for your business

Treat yourself

Let Us Take Care Of You

Copyright © ProcessWorx 2022

marisa ross team photo

Marisa Ross

HR Advisor

Marisa is an experienced and motivated HR professional with a strong HR generalist and business operations background with a focus on employee relations, performance management, leadership training & development, workers compensation & injury management, and employee retention. Marisa holds a Bachelor of Human Resource Management and a Bachelor of Behavioural Science with a minor in Counselling. Having worked in a variety of industries from SMEs to large blue-chip organisations, Marisa is passionate about enriching employee experience, employee retention, and building leadership capability in people management.

Aimee Grigson

Aimee Grigson

WHS Advisor

Aimee has a strong understanding of Workplace Health and Safety Legislation and standards and has extensive HSEQ experience in a number of industries. Aimee has a great ability to engage across all levels of organisation, including field teams, leadership and external stakeholders. Aimee ensures Health and Safety Management Systems are compliant to legislation, effectively implemented and understood by all. Aimee has a Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety and qualifications in auditing and incident investigations. Aimee is passionate about coaching and developing small businesses towards a positive safety culture.