TTIA has been made aware that there is some misunderstanding of the impact of the personal/carer’s leave provision under the National Employment Standards. As the NES came into effect from 1 January 2010, all private sector employees in NSW are entitled to 10 days personal/carer’s (sick leave) for last year. Those who were not aware of this might need to make an adjustment to the entitlement for sick leave in 2010, and start accruing personal/carer’s leave on the new basis for 2011.

Basically, personal/carer’s leave covers both sick leave and carer’s leave and accrues according to the number of ordinary hours an employee works. Personal/carer’s leave can be carried over from one year to the next.

An employee can take paid personal/carer’s leave:

  • if they can’t work because of their own personal illness or injury
  • to provide care or support to a member of their immediate family or household because of an illness, injury or emergency.

Immediate family:

spouse (including a former spouse, a de facto spouse and a former de facto spouse) of the employee. A de facto spouse means a person of the opposite sex to the employee who lives with the employee as the employee’s husband or wife on a bona fide domestic basis; and

child or an adult child (including an adopted child, a step child or an ex-nuptial child), parent, grandparent, grandchild or sibling of the employee or of the spouse of the employee.

An employee must be paid for any personal/carer’s leave taken at their base rate of pay for the ordinary hours they would have worked.

Employee’s who have taken personal/carer’s leave also need to be able to provide evidence, such as a medical certificate, if asked by an employer.  It is however, only appropriate that employers ensure that employees are aware that a policy requiring a medical certificate exists prior to any request for such documentation.


There also appears to be some confusion with regard to compassionate leave (which used to be known as bereavement leave).  Compassionate leave is separate to personal leave and is not subtracted from the ten days per year that an employee accrues under the National Employment Standard.

A permanent employee is entitled to paid compassionate leave if a member of their immediate family or household:

  • has a life threatening illness
  • has a life threatening injury
  • dies.

Casual employees are entitled to unpaid compassionate leave.

Notice and evidence

The employee must provide the same notice and evidence for compassionate leave as would be required for paid personal/carer’s leave.

Period of compassionate leave

Employees who are entitled to compassionate leave can take the leave on each occasion as:

  • a single continuous two day period
  • two separate periods of one day each
  • any separate periods to which the employee and his or her employer agree.

Amount of leave

An employee is entitled to two days of compassionate leave for each occasion (a permissible occasion). Further, if the permissible occasion is the contraction or development of a personal illness, or the sustaining of a personal injury, the employee may take the compassionate leave for that occasion at any time while the illness or injury persists.

Rate of pay

You must pay the employee at their base rate of pay for their ordinary hours of work for that period.

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