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Can an employee convert their paid or unpaid leave to carer's leave?

carers leave

Can an employee who is on either paid or unpaid leave due to a Christmas shutdown use their accrued personal/carer's leave to care for a family member?

Christmas closedowns are common across many workplaces, during which time employees may be required to use their accrued annual leave or to take a period of unpaid leave where they have insufficient leave accrued. But what happens where an employee requests to take a period of paid carer’s leave during the close-down period to provide care for a family member who may be unwell or who is having surgery.

Can paid carer’s leave be taken during a period of Christmas closedown?

Carer’s leave during periods of paid annual leave

Under s89 of the Fair Work Act, if during any period of annual leave the employee is eligible for paid personal/carer’s leave (i.e. where the employee is required to provide care for an immediate family or household member during the period of annual leave) the employee is taken to be on paid carer’s leave rather than annual leave for each day that they are eligible and can provide evidence to support this.

The period of annual leave is not extended by any such absence. However, the employee is to be re-credited their annual leave for each day of eligible absence.

Carer’s leave during periods of unpaid leave

The general principle is that an employee is not entitled to claim paid personal/carer’s leave during a period of unpaid leave.

Where an employee is absent on unpaid leave it is implied the employee does not have any ordinary hours of work during that period, therefore they would not be entitled to paid carer’s leave as such leave is based on ordinary hours of work.

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Information in HR Advice Online guides and blog posts is meant purely for educational discussion of human resources issues. It contains only general information about human resources matters and due to factors such as government legislation changes, may not be up-to-date at the time of reading. It is not legal advice and should not be treated as such.

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