Accessing leave when you are sick or have caring responsibilities is an important entitlement of your Enterprise Agreement.
Your agreement contains a lot of details on your entitlements. To get the
facts and avoid misinformation read on for the summary or talk with your local
When can I access personal leave?
Personal leave fits into three main categories,as noted in clause G9 of your
Sick leave - any personal illness, injury, medical procedures and
Carer’s leave – care or support of a person for whom you have
caring responsibilities; including providing assistance to attend medical
appointments or an unexpected emergency.
Supporting partner leave - up to two weeks leave from personal leave accrual for the supporting partner around the birth of their child or children, as well as two weeks supporting partner leave.
How much leave do I get?
Personal leave continues to accrue each year; this means if you have been in DHS for years and you have not been sick often you may have a lot of
personal leave accrued. Full time workers accrue 135 hours of personal leave
each year, which is credited in installments of 11.25 hours leave each month.
Part time workers accrue leave on a pro-rata basis of the full time amount.
Who do I tell and what do I say?
Unless there are circumstances that are beyond your control; you need to
advise DHS as soon as you reasonably can that you are, or will be, absent
from work. Generally, this means prior to your scheduled start time. DHS
has designated staff to record absences in your workplace and you should follow
the contact list in reporting your absence.
When reporting an absence that is not due to a workplace injury, you have the
right to simply state:
“I am informing you that I will not be at work today as I am unwell (or)
not fit for duty. I do not wish to answer any questions regarding the nature
of my illness. I expect to be absent from work until…… I will call you if
this situations changes.”
What about my rights and my right to privacy?
You have a right to
Access personal leave for the purposes outlined above. You are not
required to access other forms of leave when you could access personal
Keep your personal medical details private; you do not need to explain
or elaborate on the nature of your illness. The Australian Medical
Association states that “Employers should recognise the right of employees
to keep details of their medical condition confidential.”
Be allowed to recuperate without monitoring or interruption. If you are
contacted at home by a supervisor or manager you should take accurate notes
of everything the DHS caller says to you. You have the right to
record the conversation electronically if you advise the caller you are
Request a union representative as a support person on any workplace
matter. If DHS requests that you attend an interview upon your return
the CPSU advises that you take a representative or support person into that
What about proof?
You are entitled to access five days absence for personal leave (per calendar
year) without providing evidence. An absence is one day or part of a day.
However, two or more absences in the same day count as one absence.
The five absences without evidence do not have to be your first five
absences in a calendar year.
Once you have used your five absences you may be required to provide
suitable evidence for future personal leave days in that calendar year, this
request cannot be made retrospectively.
Suitable evidence is determined based on the circumstances of the leave
and could include
evidence from a registered health practitioner, including but not
limited to a medical certificate.
a statutory declaration, where it is not reasonably practicable to get evidence from a registered health practitioner.
evidence from a school or child care centre.
or other relevant evidence; such as in an emergency where a
statutory declaration would be enough.
It’s not OK, if DHS…
Pressures you to come to work and/or bring your kids to work when you do
not feel it is appropriate or comfortable.
Suggests you access forms of leave (including flex) other than personal
leave when you are sick or looking after others who need your care.
Calls you more than once to “check” on the progress of your illness.
Keeps contacting you at home and asks intrusive questions about your
illness or fitness for duty.
Probes for more details on the nature of an illness beyond what is
outlined in your medical certificate.
Implies that accessing your personal leave will result in a Back on Track plan or performance counselling.
Implies that accessing your personal leave will result in an Attendance
Implies that accessing your personal leave will inhibit your ability to
access any other entitlements within your agreement, like designing hours of
work or a pay rise.
Wants you to put to a target or cap on your personal leave into your
performance management plan; how can you predict illness or caring
responsibilities in the coming year?
Some advice on Attendance Plans
These plans are not part of your Enterprise Agreement.
You do not have to sign these plans.
Do not sign a plan without first seeking the advice and representation
from your union.
It is prohibited under the Fair Work Act to deny or inhibit your access
to entitlements based on accessing another entitlement, like personal leave.
Take a representative or support person into a meeting about attendance