Immediate Family Leave

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What is Immediate Family?

The definition of ‘immediate family’ becomes important when an employee wants to take paid or unpaid leave because of an immediate family or household member. According to the Fair Work Act 2009 an immediate family member can be a:

  • Spouse or former spouse
  • De facto partner or former de facto partner
  • Child
  • Parent
  • Grandparent
  • Grandchild
  • Sibling, or
  • Child, parent, grandparent, grandchild or sibling of the employee’s spouse or de facto partner.

This definition also extends to include step relations and adopted relations. As for household members, these are any household member who lives with the employee.

Compassionate Leave

Also known as bereavement leave, compassionate leave is when an employee needs to take paid or unpaid time off to:

  • Provide care or support when someone in the immediate family or household is suffering illness, injury or emergency.
  • Spend time with someone in the immediate family or household who develops a life threatening illness or has a life threatening injury.
  • Deal with the death of an immediate family or household member (e.g. plan and/or attend a funeral)

All full-time and part-time employees are entitled to paid compassionate leave, while casual employees are only entitled to unpaid compassionate leave.

Whether the employee is permanent or casual, the employer can make a reasonable request that the employee produce satisfactory evidence as proof of illness, serious injury, or death of an immediate family or household member. Good examples of acceptable proof include medical certificates issued by a registered medical practitioner, death certificates, and death notices in the newspaper.

An employee may take compassionate leave for each occasion in:

  • A single two-day block
  • Two separate days off each
  • Any separate period which you and the employee agree upon

Employees must give as much notice as possible of their intention to take compassionate leave, along with an estimated time of absence. Under some circumstances, say in the event of a sudden medical emergency or death, it is reasonable for an employee to give their leave notice period after they have already begun their compassionate leave.

If an employee fails to give notice or satisfactory evidence they may not get compassionate leave.

Personal/carer’s Leave

Personal/carer’s leave is another category of paid leave and should be given to employees as a separate entitlement.

Under the National Employment Standards (NES) employees are entitled to paid or unpaid personal/carer’s leave so they can deal with personal illness or injury or provide care or support to an immediate family member or member of their household because of a personal illness or injury or an unexpected emergency.

Full-time employees are entitled to 10 days of paid personal/carer’s leave. Part time employees are entitled to 10 days of paid leave on a pro rata basis. Casual employees are entitled to unpaid carer’s leave for two days per occassion.

For full-time and part-time employees, personal/carer’s leave will continue to accrue when an employee takes a period of paid personal/carer’s leave or paid annual leave. Personal carer’s leave will not accrue on unpaid leave unless it is community service leave or it is provided for in an award agreement.

When an employee takes paid leave they must be paid at their base rate of pay for the ordinary hours they would have worked during that period. An employee’s base rate of pay is the rate of pay an employee receives during ordinary hours, but does not include:

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Can Paid Personal/carer’s Leave be Cashed Out?

Employees covered by an award or agreement may cash out their leave if:

  • The award or agreement allows the practice
  • There is a separate agreement in writing on each occasion
  • The employee retains a balance of at least 15 days of untaken paid personal/carer’s leave
  • The employee is paid at least the full amount that would have been payable had the employee taken the leave they have cashed out

It is unlawful for an employer to force an employee to cash or not cash out their personal /carer’s leave entitlements. An employee not covered by an award or agreement is not able to cash out their personal carer’s entitlements.

Employsure offers specialists in all aspects of immediate family leave, including compassionate and personal/carer’s leave. For peace of mind, please contact us on 1300 207 182 to learn more.

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