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Personal/Carer’s Leave Q&A

Published November 06, 2019 (last updated June 24, 2020) Author: Employsure
Person Thinking About Employee Leave Q&A

What happened?

The Federal Court of Australia made a ruling that changes the way employers now pay their employees personal leave.

What did the court rule change?

They ruled that personal leave should now be paid out in days, not hours.

This means, that if a worker takes a sick day, they have 1 day taken out of their balance, as opposed to having hours deducted.

Why did they make this ruling?

The Federal Court ruled in favour of two Mondelez (owner of brands such as Cadbury) workers who, in simple terms, argued that it was unfair they were paid out 7.6 hours of sick leave, when they had a sick day off, as they regularly worked 12 hour shifts.

Does this change affect only full-time workers?

The change also affects part-time workers. If they work 4 hours per day, and they take a day off, they are paid for an ordinary day’s work – 4 hours.

What about casuals and unpaid sick leave?

This ruling only affects paid personal leave, which doesn’t affect casuals. Casuals do not have paid sick leave, but they can refuse to take a shift if they are sick.

Ok – so what if I have a worker who on Mondays works 4 hours and on Tuesdays works 10 hours. They call in sick in both days.

  • How much do I pay them?
  • What do I deduct from their personal leave balance?

Good question.

  • You pay them for 4 hours of work on Monday and 10 hours of work on Tuesday
  • You deduct two days from their personal leave account, instead of 4 hours and then 10 hours.

What if this worker doesn’t have enough days accrued in their personal leave balance?

As you did before this ruling, you would pay the employee as much leave as they had in their balance.

Is this the only change?

No, there’s more. If an employee takes part of a day off on personal leave, then that shall be deducted from the employee’s balance in terms of days.

So, if a worker has a shift of 8 hours and decide to go home sick after 4 hours, 0.5 days shall be deducted from their balance.

Does this apply to all employees?

It only applies to employees in the national system.

National system? What’s the national system?

The national system, in terms of employment rights, covers most employees in Australia. This ruling doesn’t apply to the following:

  • State and local government employees in NSW, Qld and SA
  • Law enforcement officers and Executives in the public sector in Victoria
  • State government employees in Tasmania
  • Law enforcement officers in ACT and NT
  • Non constitutional corporations and state government employees in Western Australia

Hmm, that seems overly complex.

Australia’s employment relations system is complex. But it’s ok, Employsure is here to help.

Is there anything else I need to know?

Until the High Court hears the appeal and makes a final decision, businesses should comply with the Federal Court decision.

Ooh, that doesn’t sound good.

Do you know where I can get help?

We sure do! Get in touch with Employsure’s Helpline on 1300 207 182, and one of our representatives can show you the way forward. Employsure makes workplace relations and compliance easy.

For more information on this change, visit this page: Understanding Personal/Carer’s Leave

About Employsure

Employsure is Australia’s largest workplace relations specialists. We take the complexity out of workplace laws to help small business employers protect their business and their people.

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