As a working carer you have a number of minimum employment award entitlements. One of the least understood and under utilised entitlement is Carer’s Leave.
Carers leave enables you to take time off to care for and support an immediate family member or household member who is ill or injured. While a member of the household is not defined, immediate family members are defined as:
- a spouse, de facto partner, child, parent, grandparent, grandchild or sibling of the employee;
- a child, parent, grandparent, grandchild or sibling of a spouse or de facto partner of the employee.
Under the proposed workplace legislation which comes into effect on 1 January 2010, minimum entitlements to personal/carer’s leave are legislated as part of the National Employment Standards. The Standard includes 10 days of paid personal/carer’s leave per year for all employees except those who are employed on a casual basis. There are pro-rata arrangements to cover part-time employees and those who have not yet worked for 12 months. Up to 10 days in any given year can be used as carer’s leave.
Entitlements to carer’s leave may be contained in an Individual Temporary Employment Agreement (ITEA) or your employer’s Human Resource Policy; and may sometimes be referred to as family or personal leave. If you are covered by a Federal Award, your current personal/carer’s leave entitlements should be preserved.
The personal/carer’s leave provisions in the Standard are a minimum entitlement. You can negotiate with your employer to include more generous leave provisions in any ITEA you enter into.
Personal/carer’s leave can be taken:
- because the employee is unfit for work because of a personal illness, or personal injury, affecting the employee; or
- to provide care or support to a member of the employee’s immediate family, or a member of the employee’s household, who requires care or support because of:
- a personal illness, or personal injury, affecting the member; or
- an unexpected emergency affecting the member.
An employee is also entitled to 2 days of unpaid carer’s leave for each occasion when a member of the employee’s immediate family, or a member of the employee’s household, requires care or support. The unpaid carer’s leave entitlement allows for employees to provide care which can be unpredictable. The Standard also includes two days of paid compassionate leave per occasion. There is no cap on the number of occasions an employee can access the unpaid carer’s leave or compassionate leave entitlements.
However, an employee can only take one period of compassionate leave for each permissible occasion when a member of his or her immediate family or household is suffering from a serious personal injury or illness which poses a serious threat to life or results in death. As with paid and unpaid persona/carer’s leave, an employee must present reasonable evidence of the illness, injury or death.
Consider these three steps to make the most of your carer’s leave entitlements.