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News • 2021-07-29

All about sick leave, by Dale Adamson

This increase does not get added to all staff at the same time. The employee is only entitled to the 10 days when they reach their first sick leave anniversary after 23 July 2021.  So, if an employee’s sick leave anniversary falls on 22 July 2021, they will only be granted 5 days sick leave to last them the next year.  However, if the anniversary is 3 days later on 25 July 2021, they will receive the new 10 day entitlement. 

Employers may consider this to be inequitable and decide, as our firm has done, to give a pro-rated increase on 24 July to grant a partial increase in entitlement to carry through to the employee’s next anniversary.

There are a lot of misunderstandings regarding sick leave which require clarification. These are the minimum legal requirements, but an employment contract may include more favourable terms.

One main point is that the entitlement is the same (i.e. 10 days a year), regardless of the number of days per week the employee normally works. So, someone who works part-time, 2 days per week for 6 hours per day, receives 10 days entitlement – the same as someone who works 40 hours per week over 5 days.  The only difference is that a day’s sick pay for the first employee would be 6 hours, whereas the full-timer would receive 8 hours.   

There is no requirement to provide sick leave until an employee has worked 6 months, which then becomes their sick leave anniversary date.  The 10 days granted then has to last until they have been employed a further year, i.e.18 months in total.

All employees are entitled to sick leave if:

  • they have six months of current or continuous employment with you, or
  • have worked for you for six months with an average of 10 hours per week, and at least 1 hour in every week or 40 hours in every month.

This in effect means that a casual employee may be entitled to sick leave. 

An employee is only entitled to sick pay if the day off is a day the employee would have normally worked or rostered on to work. The payment is at the rate the employee would have normally received for that day (including overtime and taxable allowances if applicable.) i.e. the Employee can not be worse off than if they had actually worked.

Sick pay is recorded in full days. If an employee normally works 8 hours but went home sick after 2 hours, they would receive 6 hours sick pay but lose 1 day’s sick leave entitlement.  An employer may choose to record sick leave in hours or quarter or half days, but is not obliged to do so.

If an employee has sick leave outstanding at his sick leave anniversary date, the employee must allow him to carry any balance available up to a maximum of 10 days to add to the new entitlement and give a total of 20 days available.

Any outstanding sick leave entitlement does not have to be paid out when an employee terminates.

Employees who are not sick themselves can use their sick leave to care for a sick or injured spouse, partner, child or dependent individual.

An employer may request a medical certificate. If the sick leave is less than 3 days, the employer carries the cost of the doctor visit.  If it is 3 or more consecutive (whether they are working days or not), the staff member meets the cost. The employee can select which doctor they visit. If the certificate is not forthcoming, the employer does not have to pay sick leave.

Remember that the legislation provides for minimum entitlements, but the employer may decide to be more generous, or the employment agreement may provide greater entitlements.

If you are unsure of your payroll obligations, please contact your advisor for guidance.

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