The WR team continue to receive enquiries on the Personal and Carer’s leave entitlements of employees engaged under the Vehicle and Clerks awards.
These entitlements have been in place for a considerable period of time and members are reminded that previous Federal award entitlements and accruals no longer apply. An employee’s employment records should now reflect the appropriate calculation and accrual of this entitlement under the national modern award system.
Personal and Carer’s leave is provided for as one of the ten National Employment Standards (“NES”) contained in the Fair Work Act 2009, which commenced operation on 1 January 2010. A separate entitlement to Compassionate leave also forms part of the NES.
Both the Vehicle Repair, Services and Retail Award 2020 and the Clerks- Private Sector Award 2020 refer to the NES in relation to the Personal and Carer’s leave entitlement.
Personal /Carer’s Leave
In short , ‘personal leave’ relates to the ‘personal’ sick or injury leave of an employee, while ‘carer’s leave’ relates to the provision of care and support by the employee to a member of the employee’s immediate family (as defined in the Fair Work Act) or household, because of an illness or injury. Carer’s leave also extends to an unexpected emergency affecting the immediate family member.
Personal leave and Carer’s leave is a joint single entitlement.The entitlement for a full-time employee is ten days per year, paid at the employee’s base rate of pay (i.e. not including loadings, monetary allowances, penalty rates or overtime payments). Part-time employees have a pro-rata entitlement to such leave based on their ordinary hours of work. An employee can use the joint entitlement for either purpose – for personal leave or for carer’s leave.There is no yearly cap on the amount of leave that can be accessed for either purpose in each year, as long as an accrual credit is available.
The entitlement to Personal/Carer’s leave accrues progressively according to the number of ordinary hours worked and accumulates from year to year. For example, for a full-time employee on 38 ordinary hours per week, an accrual of 1.4615 hours per week may be used as a pragmatic approach.
Compassionate leave is a separate entitlement in the Personal /Carer’s leave standard. It allows an employee to spend time with and to support a member of an employee’s immediate family or household who has sustained a life threatening illness or injury and also in the case of a death of such member.
The entitlement to paid compassionate leave is two days per occasion and is paid at the employee’s base rate of pay. The entitlement has no cap in any particular year and can be accessed on multiple occasions.Compassionate leave can be taken in a continuous period, or in two separate single days, or as agreed between the employer and employee.
Casual employees are not entitled to paid personal/carer’s leave or compassionate leave, but are entitled to unpaid carer’s leave and unpaid compassionate leave.
For all periods of personal/carer’s leave or compassionate leave, an employee must give the employer notice of the taking of such leave. Notice must be given as soon as practicable, including the expected period of the leave.
Employers are also entitled to request evidence (e.g. a medical certificate or statutory declaration) in relation to such leave. Failure to provide either notice or, if required,evidence to substantiate the leave, can result in an employee not being entitled to claim the leave.
Members are cautioned that it may be unreasonable to require an employee to provide a medical certificate for every single day of personal sick leave. However,
where the absence extends beyond a day, or where it occurs repeatedly on particular days, or if taken in conjunction with weekends or public holidays, it is reasonable for an employer to require that a medical certificate be provided.
Whilst we are experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic, we all need to be careful of our wellbeing and the wellbeing of staff. It is important where employees present with symptoms of COVID-19, that they are removed from the workplace and directed to be tested and self-isolate whilst awaiting the results. It is vital that they do not attend a workplace whilst they are awaiting their results.
Other than the fines they may face, if they do come into the workplace and are found to have COVID-19, your workplace will need to close for two weeks. Additionally, any other employees, customers or suppliers that came into contact with them or touched the same surfaces would also need to self-isolate for this duration.
Members are encouraged to have a clear policy in place setting out the rules of the business in the taking of Personal/Carer’s leave, including the provision of notice and any evidence. If you need assistance with your policy or have any questions around Personal/Carer’s Leave, contact the WR team at email@example.com or on (08) 8291 2000.