Leave entitlements

For free and confidential legal advice about this topic, please contact us here.

Your employment contract, modern award or enterprise agreement will set out what your leave entitlements are.  If it doesn’t, you will still have certain minimum entitlements under the law.

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I'm a full-time employee, what am I entitled to?

If you are a full-time employee, as a minimum you are entitled to the following:

Annual leave – 4 weeks paid leave per year, plus an additional week for certain shift workers.

Personal / carer’s leave and compassionate leave – 10 days paid personal / carer’s leave, two days unpaid carer’s leave (as required) where paid personal/carer’s leave is exhausted, and two days compassionate leave as required.

Parental leave and related entitlements – up to 12 months unpaid leave upon the birth or adoption of a child (provided certain service requirements are met), plus a right to request an additional 12 months unpaid leave.  There are also other forms of maternity, paternity and adoption related leave.

Community service leave – unpaid leave for voluntary emergency activities and leave for jury service, with an entitlement to be paid for up to 10 days for jury service.  You may also get paid for jury service under laws that apply in the State or Territory in which you work.

Long service leave – you get long service leave after a long period of working for the same employer.  The entitlement to long service leave for most employees comes from long service leave legislation in the state or territory in which you work.

I’m a part-time employee, what am I entitled to?

Generally part-time employees are entitled to the same types of leave as full-time employees, but the amount of leave is not the same. The amount of leave is proportionate to the amount of time you work.  For example, if you work 2 days a week, you would generally be entitled to 2/5 the amount of the leave a full-time employee is entitled to.

However, your entitlement to unpaid carer’s leave and compassionate leave is the same as full time employees.  Likewise, you will be entitled to long service leave after a long period of working for one employer.

I’m a casual employee, what am I entitled to?

Casual employees are generally entitled to:

  • two days unpaid carer’s leave and two days unpaid compassionate leave per occasion.
  • community service leave (except paid jury service).

In addition, casual employees who have been employed for at least 12 months by an employer on a regular and systematic basis and with an expectation of ongoing employment on a regular and systematic basis are entitled to:

  • make requests for flexible working arrangements.
  • unpaid parental leave.

Public Holidays

A public holiday is a day that the Australian, state or territory governments have declared to be a holiday, such as Australia Day.

Some public holidays apply across Australia and some only apply in certain states, territories or regions.

Most employees are entitled to a day off, and to be paid for public holidays, if they usually would have worked on that day.

Do I get paid for Public Holidays?

Employees are paid for public holidays that they do not work at the base rate of pay for the employee’s ordinary hours of work on that day or part-day. The base rate of pay does not include extra amounts such as bonuses, loadings, allowances, overtime or penaenalty rates.

However, an employee is not entitled to payment if they do not ordinarily work on that day. For example, if a public holiday is on a Tuesday and a part-time employee does not work on Tuesdays, they are not entitled to payment for the public holiday.

If you work on a public holiday, the amount of pay you receive depends on whether you’re covered by a modern award, enterprise agreement or your employment contract sets out a public holiday rate. You may be paid a penalty rate for working on a public holiday.  Whether you are entitled to be paid a penalty rate can be found in your employment agreement, modern award or enterprise agreement, which should be notified to you before you start work.

You can read more online here.

Requesting and Refusing to Work on Public Holidays

An employer can ask an employee to work on any public holiday, however an employee can refuse. Both the request and refusal must be reasonable.

A number of factors are considered when deciding if a request or refusal is reasonable, including:

  • the nature of the employer’s workplace (including its operational requirements) and the nature of the work performed by the employee
  • the employee’s personal circumstances, including family responsibilities
  • whether the employee could reasonably expect that the employer might request that the employee work on the public holiday
  • whether the employee is entitled to receive overtime payments, penalty rates, additional remuneration or other compensation that reflects an expectation of work on the public holiday and the type of employment (eg. full-time, part-time, casual or shiftwork)
  • the amount of notice given by:
  • the employer when making the request
  • the employee in refusing the request
  • any other relevant matter.

No single factor decides if a request or refusal is reasonable. They are used in combination.

Examples of public holidays

The following days are some examples of public holidays in Australia:

  • 1 January (New Year’s Day)
  • 26 January (Australia Day)
  • 25 April (Anzac Day)
  • 25 December (Christmas Day)
  • 26 December (Boxing Day)

any other day, or part-day, declared or prescribed by or under a law of a State or Territory to be observed generally within the State or Territory, or a region of the State or Territory as a public holiday (for example, Labour Day).

Some public holidays fall on a different day each year, such as Easter. For a full list of public holidays, you can visit the Fair Work Website here.

You can calculate your pay and leave entitlements here.

Where can I get further help?

Employees can test their knowledge about pay in the FWO’s Workplace Basics Quiz, available here.

For information and advice about the Fair Work System including your rights, entitlements and obligations, visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website or call the Fair Work Info line on 13 13 94.

If you’re under 25 and have a question about leave entitlements that we haven’t answered here, please contact us here and we can give you free information and advice.

Youth Law Australia would like to express thanks to Hall & Wilcox and the Fair Work Ombudsman for assisting us with the preparation of this material.

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