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Should Employees Be Allowed Paid Time off to Attend Weddings, Funerals, Ceremonies, or the Birth of a Child?

Published October 20, 2016 (last updated February 9, 2023) - Face2Face Field Service Manager
Bride And Groom Getting Married After Obtaining Paid Leave

Life events are a fact of life and can be a joyous occasion or a difficult time. Should employees be allowed paid time off to attend weddings, funerals, school sports days, graduation ceremonies, religious ceremonies, the birth of a child or children’s birthday parties?

If you are looking to the Fair Work Act 2009 to provide you with a definitive answer, then the answer is no. There is no obligation to pay employees when they are off work to attend such events.

Most employers would ask their employees to take these days or half-days as annual leave. Some might allow staff to take time off and make up the hours before or after, but that would be up to the employer.

Funerals however would generally be treated as a special case, if a member of an employee’s immediate family or household dies or suffers a life-threatening illness or injury. In this case, the employee is entitled to compassionate leave (also known as bereavement leave). All employees are entitled to two days compassionate leave each time an immediate family or household member dies or suffers a life threatening illness or injury. Full-time and part-time employees receive paid compassionate leave at their base pay rate for the ordinary hours and casual employees receive unpaid compassionate leave.

For any other life events such as weddings, religious ceremonies, school sports days, graduation ceremonies and children’s birthday parties it is up to the discretion of the employer and a sign of goodwill towards the employee whether to grant time off.

It is good practice to offer flexible working arrangements. Your business is more likely to hold on to employees, see better productivity and job satisfaction, and reduce absenteeism. Your employees can potentially find a better balance between work and their personal lives for key events.

As Australia’s leading workplace relations specialist, Employsure can help you understand all types of leave entitlements relevant in your workplace. Call us today on 1300 651 415 to speak with a specialist.

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