Personal leave – a primer for ECEC leaders and educators
Business Victoria has a range of useful factsheets, templates, professional learning resources and primers on its website to support those in early childhood education and care (ECEC) and other businesses and sectors to understand fundamental elements of employment law.
In the piece below, core aspects of personal leave, including what it covers, how it accrues, and the required evidence needed to use personal leave are explored.
What is personal leave?
Personal leave is paid leave taken for personal and compassionate reasons. It includes:
- sick leave
- carer’s leave
- compassionate leave
What does personal leave cover?
Employees can take personal leave if they:
- are sick or injured
- need to care for someone in their immediate family or household
- have an unexpected emergency
An employee’s immediate family member includes their spouse or de facto partner, child, parent, grandparent, grandchild or sibling.
How is personal leave accrued?
Personal leave can be paid or unpaid. It accrues progressively, which means that employees start earning leave on their first day and accumulate it based on time worked.
Under the NES:
- Full-time and part-time employees are entitled to at least 10 days of paid personal leave each year. For part-timers, paid leave is accrued pro rata.
- Full-time and part-time employees are entitled to an additional two days of paid compassionate and bereavement leave any time they meet the compassionate leave criteria.
- Casual employees are entitled to two days of unpaid compassionate and bereavement leave any time they meet the compassionate leave criteria.
These entitlements might be different if the employee is covered by an award, enterprise agreement or employment contract that allows for more leave.
Victorian Sick Pay Guarantee
The Victorian Sick Pay Guarantee provides up to 38 hours of paid sick and carer’s pay for eligible casual, contract and self-employed workers in certain occupations.
Compassionate and bereavement leave
All employees, including casuals, are entitled to 2 days of compassionate and bereavement leave in the event that they or a member of their immediate family or household:
- suffers a life-threatening illness or injury
- is stillborn
- has a miscarriage
Full-time and part-time employees receive paid compassionate leave in addition to their accrued personal leave entitlements. Casual employees receive unpaid compassionate leave unless their agreement or contract allows for paid leave.
Pay requirements for personal leave
When an employee takes paid personal leave, at a minimum they must be paid their base rate of pay for the ordinary hours they would have worked during the period.
Their award or employment contract may require additional entitlements, including:
- monetary allowances
- overtime or penalty rates
- any other separately identifiable amounts
Required notice for personal leave
Employees must give notice for personal leave as soon as practicable. Depending on the situation, this might be after the leave has started.
Employees must also share how long they expect the period of leave to last.
Required evidence for personal leave
Employers can ask an employee for a medical certificate for each period of personal or carer’s leave.
Depending on whether the employee is taking sick or carer’s leave, the certificate must state that:
- the employee was, is or will be unfit for work because of personal illness or injury, or
- the person the employee cared for has had or will have a personal illness or injury
The medical certificate doesn’t have to give exact details about the injury or illness – asking for this information might breach the employee’s privacy.
If it’s not practical to provide a medical certificate, the employee can supply a statutory declaration instead. The NES only requires evidence ‘that would satisfy a reasonable person’.
Creating a personal leave policy
Business Victoria advises employers to ensure their leave policies are clear and correct and cover all forms of personal leave, including sick, carer’s and compassionate leave.
Staff should be made aware of policies by including them in HR policies and procedures manuals.
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