What are my rights to paid sick leave?
If you are covered by the federal system (and most people are), you will be entitled to paid sick and carer’s leave under the National Employment Standards. Other employees, those who are covered by a state system, will have similar entitlements. Sick and carer’s leave is also known as “personal leave” or “personal/carer’s leave”.
Under the National Employment Standards, you are entitled to paid leave for illness or injury, for caring for an immediate family or household member who is ill or injured, and for helping during a family emergency.
You are entitled to at least 10 days of paid sick and carer’s leave per year if you are a full-time employee covered by the National Employment Standards. If you are a part-time employee, you are entitled to a pro-rata of that amount that corresponds to your hours of work. Casual employees are not entitled to paid sick and carer’s leave.
Under the National Employment Standards, all employees, including casual employees, are also entitled to at least 2 days of unpaid carer’s leave each time an immediate family or household member needs care due to illness, injury, or an unexpected emergency.
You may also have greater entitlements pursuant to an award, registered agreement, or employment contract.
Do I need a doctor’s certificate from my GP?
If you take sick leave, your employer is entitled to ask for evidence of the need for that leave. Obtaining a doctor’s certificate from your GP may be inconvenient, especially if you only took sick leave for just one day, but it is a straightforward way to prove your sickness.
If your employer requests evidence of your sickness and you don’t provide it, then you may not be paid for your sick leave.
Another way to provide evidence of sickness is to provide a statutory declaration that you were sick on a particular day and unfit for work.
Does unused sick leave carry over to the next year?
Paid sick and carer’s leave does roll over to the next year for those covered by the National Employment Standards.
Also note that paid sick and carer’s leave accumulates during paid leave and community service leave, not just during normal work days.
Paid sick and carer’s leave does not accumulate during unpaid sick leave, unpaid carer’s leave, unpaid annual leave, and unpaid parental leave.
I am genuinely sick and have taken sick leave for a long time. I’m worried that my employer might fire me because of this. What are my rights?
An employer has no right to fire someone just because they are sick. You can take as much paid sick and carer’s leave that you have accrued. When your paid sick and carer’s leave runs out, you can then take unpaid sick leave.
Under the federal system, you cannot be fired for taking unpaid sick leave as long as you can provide evidence of your sickness and you have not been absent for more than 3 months in the year. Even if you are absent for more than 3 months in the year and are terminated as a result, you may still have rights against your former employer. For example, depending on the circumstances, the dismissal may still be a breach of the unfair dismissal or general protections provisions.