Have you noticed how many people are sick already this winter?! As an employer, it can be a challenging time to manage, with multiple staff either away sick, or coming to work while they’re still unwell and less productive.

It’s important to have clarity and consistency when it comes to managing your team’s personal/carer’s leave. Do you have a written policy in place for managing leave requests? Is it addressed in your enterprise agreement?

The general rules for personal (sick) /carer’s leave requests are:

  • The employee must advise the employer that they are going to take personal/carer’s leave. It should be done as soon as possible, BUT it can be AFTER the leave has already commenced.
  • This notice should also indicate how long the employee will be away from work, or expects to be away from work.
  • Employers can ask for reasonable evidence of the leave requirement for a little as a day or part of a day away from work. This is a common policy where the leave it taken on a Monday, Friday or the day after a public holiday.
  • This reasonable evidence if often in the form of a medical/doctor’s certificate, or a statutory declaration.
  • This leave can also apply to caring for an immediate family member (or member of the household) should they need care for an illness, injury or unexpected emergency.
  • Pre-arranged medical appointments or elective surgeries are often not covered by sick leave unless the employee is also unfit for work due to illness or injury.

It’s important to not get frustrated with employee’s for taking permitted sick leave, whether paid or unpaid. Dismissing an employee because they are regularly sick and therefore ‘unreliable’ is prohibited and could result in an unfair dismissal or general protections claim.

If an employee is away for longer than 3 months, either consecutively, or in total over a 12 month period, the protection from dismissal no longer applies UNLESS they have an accrued entitlement to paid sick leave for that entire time. For clarity, the 3 month exemption only applies if the employee has had to take some or all of that leave as unpaid leave. Despite this officially being the case, we would urge employers to act with utmost caution when dismissing an employee who has been on extended leave.

Having trouble managing your sick leave arrangements? Give our team a call today for info on how we can help you with your employment needs.


*This is general info only and does not take your specific business needs into account.