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Leave in Australia

Holiday Leave in Australia

Full-time employees are entitled to 4 weeks off per year based on their ordinary hours of work, but it is common to receive 5-6 weeks of vacation.

Any accrued annual leave not taken during the year is paid when the employment ends.

In certain circumstances, the annual leave may be cashed out as long as the employee retains at least four weeks paid time off. This needs to be supported by a written agreement between the employer and employee. Employers should, however, check whether cashing isn't prohibited under the terms of specific Modern Awards.

Annual leave does not accumulate when a worker is on any form of unpaid leave.

Public holidays

There are seven national public holidays in Australia and additional state and territory public holidays. Holidays that fall on weekends are generally observed on the Monday after.

Depending on the Modern Award, enterprise agreement or employment contract, employees who are working on a public holiday could be entitled to one of the following:

  • Public holiday pay rate
  • An extra day off or additional annual leave
  • Minimum shift lengths on public holidays
  • Substituting a public holiday for another day

All employees have a right to not work on public holidays; however, employers can ask them to work if the request is reasonable. Employees, in turn, can refuse it if they have their own reasonable grounds.

An employee doesn't get paid for a public holiday if they don't usually work on the day that the public holiday falls on.

Australia Public Holiday Calendar 2023

01/01/2023SundayNew Year's DayNew Year's Day
26/01/2023ThursdayAustralia DayAustralia Day
06/03/2023MondayLabour DayLabour Day
13/03/2023MondayCanberra DayCanberra Day
13/03/2023MondayMarch Public HolidayMarch Public Holiday
13/03/2023MondayEight Hours DayEight Hours Day
13/03/2023MondayLabour DayLabour Day
07/04/2023FridayGood FridayGood Friday
08/04/2023SaturdayHoly SaturdayEaster Eve
09/04/2023SundayEaster SundayEaster Sunday
10/04/2023MondayEaster MondayEaster Monday
25/04/2023TuesdayAnzac DayAnzac Day
01/05/2023MondayMay DayMay Day
01/05/2023MondayLabour DayLabour Day
29/05/2023MondayReconciliation DayReconciliation Day
05/06/2023MondayWestern Australia DayWestern Australia Day
12/06/2023MondayQueen's BirthdayQueen's Birthday
07/08/2023MondayPicnic DayPicnic Day
02/10/2023MondayLabour DayLabour Day
25/12/2023MondayChristmas DayChristmas Day
26/12/2023TuesdaySt. Stephen's DayBoxing Day

Full list of public holidays per state.

Types of Leave in Australia

Sick leave

Referred to as sick and carer's leave, this leave entitles employees to 10 days per year of paid time off that can be used during sickness or when taking care of a family member. The employer funds the break. Any untaken sick leave from a given year is added to the next. This means that if an employee only takes five sick days in a given year, they will be granted 15 the following. However, accumulated sick leave is not paid out at the end of employment.

Employers can request evidence that the employee took the leave for the right reasons with the following documents:

  • A medical certificate.
  • A statutory declaration.

Maternity leave

Employees are entitled to unpaid 52 weeks of unbroken leave and can request an additional 12 months off, which can only be refused by employers on reasonable business grounds. To be eligible for the maternity leave, the employee must have 12 months of continuous service as of the expected date of birth or the adoption. Pregnant employees can start the leave up to 6 weeks before the expected date of delivery.

Of that leave, the primary carer of a newborn or adopted child is entitled to 90 days payment at the national minimum wage. This used to have to be taken in one single period, but in July 2020, the government introduced a more flexible setup:

  • In the first year, parents should take 12 weeks continuous paid parental leave.
  • Within 24 months, parents can take the rest (30 days) either immediately after the 60 days or in later shorter blocks.

Employees are entitled to the same job they had before going on the leave. If an employee's job no longer exists or has significantly changed, they must be offered suitable alternative employment. If the employee's job no longer exists, they may be entitled to redundancy. 

If an employee has a pregnancy-related illness or her pregnancy ends after 12 weeks because of miscarriage or stillbirth, she may be entitled to special maternity leave.

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Paternity leave

If the father is the primary carer of the child, he is entitled to the same parental leave rights described above. Otherwise, the father or partner (including same-sex) is entitled to 2 weeks' paid leave at the federal minimum wage by the government if they have been continuously employed for at least 12 months.

Adoption leave

Employees who adopt a child under the age of 16 are entitled to the same parental leave. They are also entitled to two days of unpaid pre-adoption leave to attend interviews or examinations required for the adoption.

Compassionate leave

Employees are entitled two days paid leave for a compassion leave in the case a family member sustains a severe personal injury or develops a severe illness that poses a threat to life or where death occurs.

Carer's leave

In Australia, carer's leave is combined with the ten days of leave entitlement employees receive.

Work-related injury

Employees with work-related injuries may be eligible for payments under their employer's workers' compensation schemes. All employers must have workers' compensation insurance for their Australian employees.

Long service leave

Unique to Australia, employees who have spent between 5-10 years with the same company are entitled to paid leave that varies from 2 to 3 months, depending on the state or territory as follows:

  • Australian Capital Territory - 6.066 weeks on full pay after each period of 7 years' continuous service.
  • New South Wales - 2 months (8.67 weeks) paid leave after ten years' continuous service. One month leave for each subsequent five years of continuous service. The legislation also provides for a pro-rata entitlement after five years, if the employer has terminated an employee's employment for any reason other than serious and wilful misconduct, or if the employee dies.
  • Northern Territory - 13 weeks on full pay after each period of 10 years' continuous service.
  • Queensland - 8.6667 weeks on full pay after each period of 10 years' continuous service. The legislation also provides for a pro-rata payment on termination (subject to criteria) between 7 and 10 years' continuous service.
  • South Australia - 13 weeks on full pay after each period of 10 years' continuous service. The legislation also provides for a pro-rata payment on termination (subject to criteria) after seven years' continuous service.
  • Tasmania - 8⅔ weeks paid leave after completing ten years of continuous employment and 4⅓ weeks of leave after each additional five years of continuous work
  • Victoria - accrues at a rate of one week for every 60 weeks of continuous employment (approximately 0.866 weeks per year), and can be taken any time after seven years' continuous service.
  • Western Australia - 8.667 weeks on full pay after each period of 10 years' continuous service. The legislation also provides for a pro-rata payment on termination (subject to criteria) after seven years' continuous service.

When an employee ceases work with an employer, they are entitled to be paid the amount of leave entitlement not taken on termination on a pro-rata basis if they have worked the minimum period of service.

Family & domestic violence leave

Employees are entitled to 10 days of paid leave each year (some companies elect to provide paid leave) in case they have been subjected to family and/or domestic violence.

Family and domestic violence refer to violent, threatening or other abusive behaviour by an employee's close relative that seeks to coerce, control or causes them harm or fear. A close relative is an employee's spouse, de facto partner, child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling or in-laws.

Community service leave

Employees can take community service leave for voluntary emergency management activities (unpaid) or jury duty (paid). An employee is considered to be part of voluntary emergency management if:

  • The activity provides relief in an emergency or a natural disaster
  • The employee participates in the activity voluntarily
  • The employee was either requested to help or would have been asked to do so if circumstances allowed
  • The employee is a member of or is associated with a recognised emergency management body.

An employee is entitled to take community service leave while they are engaged in the activity and for reasonable travel and rest time. There is no limit on the amount of community service leave an employee can take.

Employees must give their employers notice of the absence as soon as possible and the period or expected period of absence. Employers may request the employee to provide evidence that they're entitled to community service leave.

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