All employees can use paid and unpaid carers leave to care for an immediate family member or household member that needs care or support due to an injury.
Carers leave is an entitlement that allows an employee to take time off work to care for an injured member of their immediate family or household. Paid carer’s leave comes out of an employee’s personal leave which also includes sick leave.
Unpaid carer’s leave is also available and entitlements are determined independently of personal leave. Employees (including casual employees) are generally entitled to 2 days unpaid carer’s leave each time an immediate family member or household member needs care and support due to injury or unexpected emergency.
For every year of service, full-time employees are entitled to a minimum of 10 days paid personal leave each year which includes sick leave and carer’s leave. Part-time employees have the same entitlement on a pro rata basis. However, your registered agreement or employment contract may entitle you to more paid personal or carers leave.
Personal leave accumulates over the time the employee is employed and if not taken by the end of the year it carries over to the next year. Therefore, if an employee has been with their employer at least 12 months and has not taken any sick days, they would have a minimum of 10 full days carers leave to take.
In addition to this, employees are also entitled to a minimum of 2 days of unpaid carers leave and 2 days of paid compassionate leave which may be taken if a family member suffers a life-threatening injury.
Casual employees are not entitled to be paid sick leave and carers leave. However unpaid compassionate leave is available.
Personal leave is the name given to a combined pool of days from which sick leave and carer’s leave may be taken. Therefore sick leave and carer’s leave come out of the same balance which accumulates throughout an employee’s employment.
The duration for which an injured person will require care varies dramatically from case to case and there is, of course, the possibility that a family member will require long-term care of months or years. So once your 2 to 3 weeks of paid and/or unpaid carers leave runs out, what are your options?
There is nothing preventing an employee from using their annual or long service leave for the purpose of caring for an injured family member. Your employer cannot unreasonably refuse an application for annual or long service leave.
Alternatively, you may be able to negotiate some other arrangement with your employers such as reduced hours or an extended period of unpaid leave.
An employer cannot take action against you for taking paid or unpaid carer’s leave. Neither can they dismiss you for a temporary absence due to an injury. However depending on whether the employee has available leave which will cover them after their carer’s leave runs out, and the period of their absence from work, their employer may have valid grounds to end their employment. Understanding your rights is key in this scenario.
Whether the dismissal is unfair will depend on all the circumstances of the matter. Employees facing this situation should obtain personalised legal advice from an employment lawyer.
The Australian government offers a Carer Payment and Carer Allowance to give financial assistance to persons who must provide daily care at home to someone with a serious medical condition.
The Carer Payment financially supports carers who are unable to work in substantial paid employment due to their full-time caring role. The Carer Allowance is not income or asset tested and can be paid in addition to wages.
Carers who are receiving the Carer Payment or Carer Allowance may also be eligible to receive the Carer Supplement. This is an annual lump sum payment to assist with caring costs.
While an injured person can claim compensation for gratuitous care provided to them in certain circumstances -eg: in some cases of common law claims through the Workers Compensation scheme-, the actual carer does not have a right of compensation for earnings lost due to reduced income resulting from caring for an injured family member.
It’s important to get advice for your specific situation. Check if you can make a risk-free compensation claim and get free initial advice from our Principal lawyer, Greg Smith.
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