Taking sick leave

What is sick leave?

Sick leave is paid time off work if you’re sick or injured.

What sick leave am I entitled to?

If you’ve been employed for more than six months at one time, you’re entitled to five days’ sick leave. Most people are entitled to sick leave whether they’re full-time or part-time, permanent or fixed-term employees as long as they’ve worked for six months or more in their job.

If you’ve been employed for less than six months you’re not entitled to any minimum sick leave.  If you’re sick and can’t work:

  • check your employment agreement, it might say that you get sick leave when you start working
  • talk to your employer, see if you can use some of your annual holidays, or take unpaid leave

If you’re on a fixed term agreement, you become eligible for sick leave after six months. If your fixed term is less than six months, you don’t get the minimum sick leave.

If you’re a casual worker and have been working for the employer regularly for six months, you may get sick leave.  To qualify for sick leave, in your last 6 months of employment, you must have been working an average of at least 10 hours per week, including at least one hour per week or 40 hours per month.

What happens when I have no sick leave entitlement?

You may run out of sick leave or not be entitled to any. If so, you can ask your employer to use some of your annual leave or take unpaid leave.

What should I do when I am sick from work?

You must tell your employer of your sickness or injury and also tell them that you can’t come into work that day because you’re sick or injured. Usually, giving them a call before you start work is the best way.

Your employer can ask you for proof of your sickness or injury. This can be a certificate from your doctor or some other form of evidence.  If you have been away from work for less than 3 days, your employer must reimburse you for the cost of obtaining the proof, for example, your visit to the doctor.  If you have been away for 3 or more consecutive days (then you meet the costs).

You can usually get a medical certificate from your local GP, or health clinic. There might be a small cost for it.

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