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Carer's Leave Information Page

What is Carer’s Leave?

Carer’s leave is a type of leave that allows employees to take time off from work to care for a family member or someone living in their household who is sick, injured, or experiencing an unexpected emergency. This can include a spouse, child, parent, or other individuals who rely on you for care.

The provision for carer’s leave is part of the National Employment Standards (NES), which are the minimum employment standards that apply to all workers in Australia under the Fair Work system. This system is governed by the Fair Work Act 2009 and sets out the rules for various types of leave, including annual leave, personal/carer’s leave, and parental leave, among others.

Permanent employees in Australia have the right to both paid and unpaid carer’s leave, while casual employees can only take unpaid carer’s leave. Knowing your rights when it comes to carer’s leave can help you balance your work and personal responsibilities.

How do I apply for a Carer’s Leave Certificate?

If you want to take carer’s leave, it’s important to know the process for applying and providing evidence to your employer.
Under the Fair Work system, bosses have the right to ask for evidence whenever you take carer’s leave, even if it’s just for a few hours or a single day. If you don’t submit evidence, you may not receive payment for your leave.

A common type of acceptable proof is a carer’s leave certificate from a healthcare provider, such as OnCare Health.

Your industry and employment agreement might have specific rules about the evidence you need to provide and when to submit it. However, the Fair Work Ombudsman Australia highlights that any evidence requested by an employer should be reasonable given the situation.

Carer’s Leave accumulation

With NES, a worker’s right to carer’s leave grows slowly during a year of work. This means that the longer you work for your employer, the more carer’s leave you are entitled to. However, it’s important to note that carer’s leave comes out of your personal leave balance, which includes both paid sick leave and carer’s leave.

So, how much carer’s leave are you entitled to?

Full-time employees are entitled to 10 days of carer’s leave each year, while part-time employees receive a smaller amount based on hours they work.

For example, if you work part-time and your usual hours are half of a full-time employee’s, you would be entitled to 5 days of carer’s leave each year.

Can Carer’s Leave balance be cleared if it’s not used within a year?

Both carer’s leave and sick leave accumulate year after year with no expiration date.

This means that if you don’t use up your full entitlement in any one year, the leftover portion carries over to the next year’s entitlement.
In other words, once you accrue carer’s leave, it’s yours to use whenever you need it – it’s the law.

When can Carer’s Leave be taken?

An employee can take paid carer’s leave to provide care or support to a member of their immediate family or household, because of a personal illness, injury or unexpected emergency affecting the member.

A member of immediate family or household means:

  • Spouse or former spouse
  • De facto partner or former de facto partner
  • Child
  • Parent
  • Step-relations (e.g. step-children, step-parents and also adoptive relations)
  • Grandparent
  • Grandchild
  • Sibling
  • Child, parent, grandparent, grandchild or sibling of the employee’s spouse or de facto partner (or former spouse or de facto partner), or
  • Any person who lives with the employee

How much leave an employee can take?

As an employee, you have the right to take as much paid carer’s leave as you have accumulated.
There is no minimum or maximum amount of paid carer’s leave that can be taken at a time.

Does Carer’s Leave get paid out when you resign?

Unlike annual leave, carer’s leave does not typically get paid out when you resign. This means that any unused carer’s leave will be lost.

However, it’s important to note that employees can still take carer’s leave and sick leave during their notice period, as long as it’s within reason. If you need to take time off to care for a family member or if you fall ill during your notice period, you are entitled to do so.

Check your Carer’s Leave balance

It’s important to note that companies are not required to show your personal leave balance on your payslip.

However, you have the right to know how much leave you have accumulated, and your employer must tell you if you simply ask.

Unpaid Carer’s Leave

Employees, including casual workers, are allowed to take 2 days of unpaid carer’s leave for each instance where a member of their immediate family or household needs care or support due to an unexpected emergency, personal illness, or injury.

Can paid Carer’s Leave be cashed out?

Only the employees who are covered by an award or agreement can cash out paid carer’s leave if all of the following apply:

  • The award or agreement allows it
  • There is a separate agreement in writing on each occasion
  • The employee retains a balance of at least 15 days of untaken paid 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 (or try to force) an employee to make (or not make) an agreement to cash out carer’s leave under a term included in an award or agreement.
An award or agreement-free employee is not able to cash out paid carer’s leave.

Mother applying for a carers leave certificates online so she can take care of her sick son

Carer’s Leave is an essential entitlement for anyone who needs to care for a loved one. It enables them to fulfill their caregiving duties without compromising their income or job safety.

At OnCare Health, we understand the difficulties that carers face and are committed to assisting them. We offer certificate services at an affordable cost to enable carers to take the necessary leave from work to care for their loved ones.

Carer’s Leave FAQs

Under the Fair Work Act, employers have the right to request proof “that would convince a reasonable person” of an employee’s entitlement to a Carer’s Leave. While there are no rigid guidelines on the specific evidence needed, it should be persuasive to a reasonable individual. Acceptable forms of evidence include digital Carer’s Leave certificates.

Telehealth doctors have the authority to issue legally acceptable medical certificates, provided they include all the essential information. This includes the doctor’s name and address, the patient’s name, examination date, certificate issuance date, and when the patient was or will be unable to attend. By ensuring comprehensive details, these certificates maintain their validity and legitimacy.

The appropriate term for certificates that serve as evidence for Carer’s Leave is a carer’s Certificate. Some recognised certificates include:

  1. Medical Certificate – issued and signed by doctors.
  2. Certificate of Capacity – issued and signed by doctors, physiotherapists, chiropractors, or osteopaths.
  3. Certificate for Absence from Work – issued and signed by pharmacists.
  4. Certificates by Nurse Practitioners – In some states, Nurse Practitioners have the authority to issue certificates for sick leave, although this may not be universally applicable.

Although the Act does not explicitly define the term “reasonable person,” it typically refers to an individual who demonstrates sound judgment and maintains a fair and sensible perspective that others in similar circumstances might also hold. When presenting evidence for Carer’s Leave, it is important to provide compelling information that would satisfy someone with these qualities.

The AMA guidelines establish the benchmark for issuing medical certificates, outlining the essential elements of a valid certificate while underscoring healthcare providers’ ethical and professional obligations to issue precise and honest certificates.

Employers should only accept an online Carer’s Leave certificate if it contains all the necessary details as outlined in the AMA guidelines or policies. These certificates maintain legal validity as official documents when they adhere to the established criteria

If an employer fails to recognise a legally valid certificate, the employee has the option to seek assistance or file a complaint with the Fair Work Ombudsman in Australia. The Ombudsman will then investigate the matter and work towards a potential resolution.

Carer’s Leave is typically taken to care for immediate family or household members. However, if the person requiring care is not an immediate family or household member, it may be more suitable to request compassionate leave or an annual leave, pending approval from the employer.

Carer’s Leave can be taken when there is a family emergency, which includes unexpected situations that demand the employee’s immediate attention and presence.

Employees are obligated to promptly inform their employer, even after the leave has begun. Additionally, they should communicate the anticipated duration of the leave to their employer.

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