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Vacation and Leave Policies

Understand the regulations on vacation and other types of leave in Australia

Holiday leave

In Australia, the entitlements for vacation leave, also known as annual leave, are regulated by the Fair Work Act 2009 and the National Employment Standards (NES).

Minimum Annual Leave Entitlement

Employees who work full-time or part-time are entitled to 4 weeks of paid annual leave each year. This leave accrues based on their regular working hours. Shift workers may be entitled to an additional week of annual leave (making a total of 5 weeks) if they meet certain criteria outlined in the NES.

Accrual and Use of Vacation Leave

Vacation leave accrues gradually throughout the year, and employees can take it as it accrues. Some awards or agreements may include an additional payment known as 'leave loading' on top of the regular pay during annual leave, typically 17.5%. Employees can usually agree in writing with their employer to cash out some of their accrued annual leave, provided they retain at least 4 weeks.

Other Considerations

Employers can refuse a leave request on reasonable business grounds but must consider the employee's needs. If an employee falls ill or is injured during annual leave, they may be able to apply for personal/carer's leave instead.

Public holidays

Australia celebrates a combination of national public holidays and state or territory-specific holidays.

National Public Holidays

Australia's national public holidays include:

  • New Year's Day (January 1)
  • Australia Day (January 26)
  • Good Friday (March/April - date varies)
  • Easter Monday (March/April - date varies)
  • Anzac Day (April 25)
  • Christmas Day (December 25)
  • Boxing Day (December 26)

State and Territory Public Holidays

In addition to the national holidays, each state and territory may observe additional public holidays. Some of these include:

  • Queen's Birthday (Observed in all states except WA and NT)
  • Labour Day (Observed in most states and territories on different dates)
  • Canberra Day (ACT)
  • Adelaide Cup Day (South Australia)
  • Royal Queensland Show (Ekka) (Brisbane, Queensland)

It's important to note that dates for some public holidays may vary between states and territories, so it's crucial to check the specific dates for your location.

Types of leave

Employees in Australia have access to a range of leave entitlements protected under the Fair Work Act 2009 and the National Employment Standards (NES). Here's a breakdown of the main types:

Annual Leave

Full-time and part-time employees are entitled to 4 weeks of paid annual leave each year (NES). Annual leave accrues over time and can be taken in advance of accrual. Employees may be entitled to an additional 17.5% payment, known as leave loading, on top of their regular pay while on annual leave.

Personal/Carer's Leave (Sick Leave)

Full-time and part-time employees are entitled to 10 days of paid personal/carer's leave each year (NES). This leave is used for an employee's own illness/injury or to care for a family or household member. Unused personal/carer's leave accumulates from year to year.

Compassionate Leave

Employees (including casuals) are entitled to 2 days of paid compassionate leave per occasion when a member of their immediate family or household dies of suffers a life-threatening illness/injury (NES).

Long Service Leave

Long service leave is an extended period of paid leave granted after a substantial period of continuous employment with the same employer. Eligibility, entitlements, and qualifying periods vary by state/territory and specific awards or agreements.

Community Service Leave

Employees get unpaid leave for certain activities like jury duty or voluntary emergency service activities (NES).

Parental Leave

Employees are entitled to 12 months of unpaid parental leave to be the primary caregiver of a newborn or adopted child. This can be extended by a further 12 months by request (NES). Employees also receive government-funded Paid Parental Leave for up to 18 weeks.

Other Types of Leave

There are also other types of leave such as Domestic and Family Violence Leave, which grants 5 days of unpaid leave per year (NES). In addition to the listed types of leave, employees may be able to negotiate unpaid leave for various reasons with their employer.

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