What are employees’ leave entitlements?

Annual leave

All full-time employees are entitled to four weeks paid annual leave each year. Part-time employees accrue paid annual leave on a pro-rata (proportional) basis. The Pastoral Award 2010 (which covers dairy employees) provides for a 17.5% annual leave loading to be paid to award employees when taking annual leave and upon termination if any annual leave is paid out.

Leave loading is a payment of 17.5% in addition to the base rate of pay to compensate employees for the loss of overtime pay while they are on annual leave.

Casual employees are not entitled to annual leave as the casual loading is calculated to include a component to compensate them for loss of annual leave entitlements.

Can employees cash out their annual leave? (updated July 2016)

As of 29 July 2016, employers and employees covered by the Pastoral Award 2010 can agree in writing to cash out annual leave.Each agreement to cash out annual leave must be in writing and the payment must be for the full amount that the employee would have been paid if the employee had taken the leave. A separate agreement is required each time annual leave is cashed out.

Employees who are not covered by an award or agreement (such as managers) may agree in writing with their employer to cash out annual leave.

Read more about cashing out annual leave (inc. templates)

Can an employee request annual leave at the busiest time of year?

The guide for this is contained in the National Employment Standards at clause 88:

“Taking paid annual leave:

  • Paid annual leave may be taken at times agreed between an employee and his or her employer.
  • The employer must not unreasonably refuse to agree to a request by the employee to take paid annual leave.”
Can I make an employee take leave? (updated July 2017)

Terms about excessive leave in the Pastoral Award 2010 changed as of29 July 2017. Accrued annual leave is regarded as ‘excessive’ if more than eight weeks’ annual leave has accrued. If employees have accrued excessive annual leave, the employer and the employee can discuss ways to reduce or eliminate the amount of leave owing.

If the employer and the employee cannot agree on the taking of the leave, clauses 23.6, 23.7 and 23.8 of the Pastoral Award 2010 provide a procedure for the employer to direct the employee to take the excessive leave and a procedure for the employee to require the employer to grant the excessive leave.

These provisions only apply if there is an excessive leave balance (more than eight weeks’ leave accrued). Read more in the Pastoral Award section.

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How much sick leave do I have to pay?

Sick leave is now called personal/carer’s leave. Under the National Employment Standards, full-time employees (other than casuals) are entitled to 10 days paid personal/carer’s leave for each year of service, two days unpaid carer’s leave as required, and two days compassionate leave (unpaid for casuals) as required.

Personal/carer’s leave accrues on the basis of the employee’s ordinary hours of work progressively throughout the year and from year to year and there is no cap on how much of this leave can be used for carer’s leave. Personal leave can be taken if the employee is not fit for work due to personal illness or injury, and generally a doctor’s certificate should be provided.

Carer’s leave can be taken to provide care or support for a member of the employee’s household or immediate family due to personal illness or injury or an unexpected emergency. Payment for personal/carer’s leave is at the employee’s base rate of pay for ordinary hours of work. Unpaid carer’s leave may also be taken if personal leave has been used up.

Under the Fair Work Act employers have to keep written time and wages records for their employees for 7 years, including records of leave taken and leave balances. Here are some forms you can use:

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Which leave gets paid out on termination?

Accrued annual leave must be paid out on termination. You don’t have to pay out accrued personal/carer’s leave. Long service leave may have to be paid out on termination (see below).

What are the other leave entitlements?
Long service leave

The long service leave laws vary from state to state. For more information about long service leave, you can contact your local state long service leave department.

Note: As of 1 November 2018, the Victorian government has made significant changes to the laws about long service leave – read more about long service leave in Victoria here

State State Department Contact number
Victoria Business Victoria – Workforce  1800 287 287
New South Wales NSW Industrial Relations  131 628
Queensland Department of Justice and Attorney General  (07) 3225 2299
Northern Territory Office of the Commissioner for Public Employment  (08) 8999 5511
Western Australia WageLine  1300 655 266
South Australia SafeWork SA  1300 365 255
Tasmania Helpline – Workplace Standards Tasmania  1300 366 322
Australian Capital Territory Worksafe ACT  (02) 6207 3000
Unpaid leave
  • Parental and adoption leave of 12 months (unpaid), with a right to request an additional 12 months.
  • Community service leave, for activities dealing with certain emergencies or natural disasters.

Best practice tip

Maintaining employee leave records can take up a lot of time. If you employ a number of staff, talk to your accountant or bookkeeper about investing in a computerised accounts package such as MYOB or Quickbooks.

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Resources, support material and updates

The ESKi is designed to get you started and is integrated with the resources across this website. The documents and links below will help you with this topic. We’ve included word templates you can download and customise for your farm, including your business name, logo, etc. and PDFs you can print and write on.

People issues are constantly changing. People issues are constantly changing – keep you up to date with a regular, short e-bulletins by subscribing here (you can unsubscribe at any time).

Leave checklist
  • Do you have processes in place for employees to apply for annual, personal, carer’s, parental, community service and long service leave?
  • Do you maintain accurate records of employee leave entitlements?

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