Introduction to Personal/Carer’s Leave in Australia

As we navigate through life, circumstances often arise where we must take a break from work to care for ourselves or our loved ones. In Australia, personal/carer’s leave is a right afforded to all employees under the National Employment Standards (NES). This blog post will provide a comprehensive overview of personal/carer’s leave as it relates to Australian employment law. We’ll dive into the NES, eligibility criteria, entitlements for both paid and unpaid leave, situations that warrant such leave, and the evidence required. By the end of this post, you’ll have a thorough understanding of what personal/carer’s leave is in Australia.

1. Understanding the National Employment Standards for Carers Leave

The National Employment Standards (NES) are fundamental to Australian employment law, setting minimum standards for employee entitlements. Among these standards is the provision for personal/carer’s leave. According to the NES, full-time and part-time employees are entitled to 10 days of paid personal/carer’s leave per year, which accumulates progressively over the service year. This leave can be used when an employee cannot work due to illness or injury, or when they need to provide care or support to a member of their immediate family or household who is sick, injured, or experiencing an emergency. This provision ensures employees don’t have to choose between their health or the well-being of their loved ones and maintaining their employment.

2. Eligibility and Entitlements for Paid Carers Leave

To be eligible for personal/carer’s leave in Australia, an individual must be a full-time or part-time employee. Casual employees are not entitled to paid personal/carer’s leave but can avail of unpaid carer’s leave when necessary. Full-time employees are entitled to 10 days of paid personal/carer’s leave each year, accumulating from the first day of employment. Part-time employees have the same entitlement on a pro-rata basis, depending on their work hours. These leaves can be taken in part or as a whole, and any untaken leave rolls over to the next year. This entitlement is protected under the Fair Work Act, meaning an employer cannot take adverse action against an employee for using their personal/carer’s leave.

3. Carers Leave for Casual Employees

Although casual employees in Australia are not entitled to paid personal/carer’s leave, they are still considered under the National Employment Standards (NES). Specifically, they are entitled to 2 days of unpaid carer’s leave for each permissible occasion when a member of their immediate family or household requires care or support due to illness, injury, or an emergency. This allows casual employees to take time off work without fearing job loss. The request for leave must be substantiated to the employer’s satisfaction, typically through a medical certificate or statutory declaration.

4. Situations Warranting Carers Leave

Several situations may warrant the use of carer’s leave in Australia:

  • Illness: If an immediate family member or household member falls ill, an employee can use their carer’s leave to provide necessary care and support.
  • Injury: In cases where an immediate family member or household member is injured and needs care, an employee can avail carer’s leave.
  • Medical Appointments: Attending medical consultations or follow-ups of an immediate family member or household member can be a valid reason to apply for carer’s leave.
  • Emergency Situations: If there is an emergency involving a close family member or household member, an employee can utilize their carer’s leave to manage the situation.

It’s important to note that the specifics of when carer’s leave can be taken may vary depending on the terms of an employment agreement or any relevant industrial instrument.

5. Required Evidence for Taking Carers Leave

Requests for carer’s leave should be substantiated with proper evidence. Employees must produce either a medical certificate or a statutory declaration. A medical certificate from a healthcare professional attests to the family member’s health condition necessitating the care. Alternatively, the employee may provide a statutory declaration, a formal statement made under the law affirming the necessity of the employee’s presence to provide care or support. The evidence must be genuine and accurate, as false claims can result in disciplinary action. Conveniently, you can apply for an online personal or carer’s leave certificate from OnCare Health, saving you time and effort.

6. Comparison to Compassionate Leave

Compassionate leave is a separate entitlement under the NES, allowing employees to take time off to deal with a death or life-threatening illness or injury of a family member. While both types of leave cater to family-related circumstances, personal/carer’s leave focuses on providing care and support for non-life-threatening conditions. Compassionate leave is typically 2 days per occasion and can be taken as paid leave by full-time and part-time employees, while casual employees are entitled to unpaid compassionate leave.

7. How Personal/Carer’s Leave Accumulates

Personal/carer’s leave accumulates based on an employee’s ordinary hours of work. For full-time employees, this equates to 10 days per year. Part-time employees accumulate leave on a pro-rata basis relative to their working hours. Notably, the leave continues to accumulate during periods of paid leave, such as annual leave or paid parental leave but does not accumulate during unpaid leave.

8. Unpaid Carer’s Leave

If an employee has exhausted their paid personal/carer’s leave entitlements or if they are a casual employee, they can still take up to 2 days of unpaid carer’s leave for each permissible occasion. This allows employees to fulfill their caregiving responsibilities without the added stress of losing their job. As with paid leave, evidence must be provided to the employer to substantiate the need for the leave.

9. Returning to Work After Carer’s Leave

Upon returning to work after a period of personal/carer’s leave, employees are generally entitled to return to the position they held before taking the leave. If that position no longer exists, they must be provided with an available position for which they are qualified and suited, nearest in status and pay to their previous position. This protection ensures job security for employees who need to take time off to care for themselves or their loved ones.

10. Employer Obligations and Employee Rights

Employers have a legal obligation to respect the personal/carer’s leave entitlements of their employees. This includes allowing employees to take leave when needed, not taking adverse action against employees for using their leave entitlements, and maintaining accurate records of leave taken. Employees, on the other hand, are obligated to provide notice as soon as practicable (which may be after the leave has started) and to provide any requested evidence to substantiate the need for the leave.


In conclusion, understanding personal in Australia is crucial for both employees and employers. It’s a vital component of the National Employment Standards, ensuring employees can care for themselves and their loved ones without jeopardizing their employment. By familiarizing yourself with the eligibility criteria, entitlements, and evidence requirements, you can make the most of this important workplace right. For more information on personal/carer’s leave in Australia, you can visit OnCare Health for helpful resources.