Do you know your rights and obligations when it comes to sick leave?
This time of year, many workers catch a cold or influenza, and need to take time off to lie on the couch and watch Netflix and recover.
However, many aren’t aware of the rules when it comes to sick leave.
Your rights and obligations when it comes to sick leave
The law says an employee can take sick leave when they are ill or injured, and it can be paid or unpaid.
Full-time employees are entitled to 10 paid sick days a year.
Meanwhile, part-time employees are entitled to pro-rata of 10 days each year, depending on their hours of work.
Workers have an obligation to tell their employer when they are sick, according to industrial advocate Miles Heffernan.
“If you are unwell, you must notify your boss as soon as possible, and also give them an indication of when you are likely to return to work,” he said.
If you do take sick leave, your employer can ask for proof of your illness in the form a medical certificate from a doctor or pharmacist.
Employers can ask you to provide a medical certificate even for taking just one day off.
Does sick leave carry over year to year?
Full-time and part-time employees accumulate sick leave as they work during the year.
It starts to build up from the first day of employment, and is calculated on the number of hours worked.
The balance at the end of each year carries over to the next year.
“SACKED ON SICK LEAVE – UNFAIR SAYS FAIR WORK COMMISSION”
When to stay home from work
Many workers feel pressure to keep working when they’re sick.
This can be because:
- they have run out of paid leave;
- or they fear a backlog of work when they return;
- or because they don’t want to let the team down.
General Practitioner Doctor Miriam Brooks told ABC Life there are good reasons to stay home when you have a cold or flu.
“One is to rest and recover, in which case people should be guided by their symptoms — fatigue, fever, feeling unwell,” she said.
Another reason to stay home is to avoid making your co-workers sick.
And doctors warn that if you keep working when you’re sick, it is likely to take you longer to recover.
Doctor Brooks said:
“It’s just more efficient for everyone to have a proper rest and recover more quickly.
“If people force themselves to work when they are really unwell, they may end being sicker for a lot longer.
“It’s just more efficient for everyone to have a proper rest and recover more quickly.”
An employee can take paid carer’s leave to care for or support a member of their immediate family or household who is sick, injured or has an unexpected emergency.
Sick and carer’s leave comes under the same leave entitlement.
It’s also known as personal / carer’s leave.
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