Sick Leave in Australia: A Comprehensive Guide to Entitlements and Benefits

Sick leave is a benefit provided to employees during their employment. Knowing your entitlements is important! In this Legal Kitz blog post, we will provide you with all the information you need to understand sick leave and your entitlements!

What is sick leave?

Sick leave refers to a specific type of leave granted to employees when they are unable to work due to illness, injury, or medical conditions. It is designed to provide employees with the necessary time off to recover and prevent the spread of contagious diseases in the workplace. Sick leave policies and legislation vary across businesses and international jurisdictions.


What are my sick leave entitlements?

In Australia, sick leave entitlements are derived from the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) and the National Employment Standards (NES). A business will also typically have its own sick leave policy that will outline the entitlement of employees to a certain number of paid or unpaid sick days per year, depending on their employment status and length of service. It is worth noting that specific industry awards, enterprise agreements, or employment contracts may have additional provisions relating to sick leave entitlements.

Key provisions regarding sick leave entitlements include:

  1. Accrual of Sick Leave: Full-time employees are entitled to 10 days of paid sick leave (also known as personal/carer’s leave) per year. Part-time employees are entitled to a pro-rata amount based on their hours worked.
  2. Paid Sick Leave: Sick leave is paid at the employee’s base rate of pay for the ordinary hours they would have worked. It does not include additional payments such as overtime or allowances.
  3. Accumulation of Sick Leave: Sick leave accumulates year to year if it is not utilised. There is no limit on the amount of sick leave that can be accumulated.
  4. Use of Sick Leave: Sick leave can be used when an employee is ill or injured, or when they need to care for an immediate family member or household member who is ill or injured.
  5. Notice and Evidence: Employers may require employees to provide notice of their absence and reasonable evidence of their illness or injury. This could include a medical certificate or other documentation.
  6. Sick Leave during Annual Leave: If an employee falls ill during a period of approved annual leave, they can request to use sick leave instead and have their annual leave reinstated.
  7. Transfer of Sick Leave: When an employee changes jobs or employers, their accrued sick leave balance is generally transferable to the new employment.

What are my obligations to my employer while on sick leave?

Your obligations to your employer while on sick leave will depend on your company policy and legislative standards. However, generally, while on sick leave you should notify your employer of any changes to your circumstances that may affect your return-to-work plans, such as a delayed recovery time. You will also likely be required to cooperate in a return-to-work process or rehabilitation program that has been initiated by your employer. If you believe your employer is imposing obligations on you contrary to legislation or the company policy, you should notify

What happens if my sick leave is denied?

In the first instance, if your employer denies your sick leave request it is important to review the company policies surrounding sick leave to ensure you understand your obligations. If you are unable to determine why your sick leave was denied it is recommended that you communicate with your employer. Seek clarification on their decision and express any concerns regarding your need for leave due to illness or injury. However, it may be necessary to escalate your grievances. In this instance, you can:

  1. Seek Representation: If discussing the matter directly with your employer does not lead to a satisfactory resolution, you may consider seeking legal assistance or the services of an industrial relations specialist. These parties can provide guidance on your rights, obligations, and the best course of action.
  2. Contact the Fair Work Ombudsman: The Fair Work Ombudsman is a government agency that provides information and assistance regarding workplace rights and obligations in Australia. You can contact them to seek advice or lodge a complaint if you believe your employer has unlawfully denied your sick leave entitlements.
  3. Lodge a Formal Complaint: If all other avenues have been exhausted and you believe your employer’s denial of sick leave is unjustified, you may choose to lodge a formal complaint with an appropriate authority. This could be the Fair Work Commission, an industry-specific tribunal, or a relevant state or territory employment authority. The process and requirements for lodging a complaint will depend on the specific jurisdiction.

It is important to note that employment laws and procedures can be complex, and individual circumstances may vary. Seeking professional advice and guidance from relevant authorities will help ensure you understand your rights and the appropriate steps to take in addressing a denied sick leave request.

Legal Advice

If you have any questions or concerns regarding sick leave policies and sick leave legislation, Legal Kitz may be able to assist you. Click here to request to book a FREE consultation with one of our highly experienced solicitors today or contact us at or by calling 1300 988 954.