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What to do if an employee is sick during their annual leave

Tracy Angwin /

payroll managers confused

Australian Payroll Association founder and chief executive officer Tracy Angwin. Source: supplied.

When we think of taking annual leave, we often imagine ourselves sitting somewhere in the sun, drinking a cocktail without a care in the world. The last thing you want to do during your well-deserved break is to be sick in bed or in hospital with a loved one.

However, life can be unpredictable and the unexpected arises.

If you are an employer, and your employee happens to fall sick during their annual leave period, you have an obligation if they ask to use their sick leave during this time. I’ve highlighted what you should do in this instance and how to handle the leave.

Annual leave and personal or carers’ leave are considered two separate entitlements that need to be dealt with differently from a payroll perspective.

As an employer, you must allow employees to take their sick leave during the annual leave period, provided they have given you the appropriate documentation and proof. 

What to do if you’re an employee

If you’re an employee and you fall sick or have to take care of a loved one during an annual leave period, you are entitled to use your personal/carers’ leave (also known as sick leave). If this happens, you must let your employer know as soon as possible that you are unwell and you plan to use your sick leave instead of your annual leave. 

At this time, your employer can ask you for evidence which confirms that you were unfit for work. Appropriate forms of evidence include a medical certificate, a statutory declaration or any other evidence that a reasonable person would be satisfied with. If you cannot provide such documentation, then your employer may not be under an obligation to process this leave as personal leave. 

What to do if you’re an employer 

As an employer, if you are satisfied with the evidence that has been provided by your employee, then it is simply a matter of processing the time off as personal/carers’ leave.

It’s important for employers to ensure their payroll systems are accruing personal/carers’ Leave according to the recently clarified interpretation of how many days and hours to pay staff when taking leave.

When entitlement situations such as these arise, it becomes more vital to have an experienced and qualified payroll manager who is knowledgeable about the legislation surrounding the National Employment Standards which include personal/carers leave. This ensures that it will be properly handled for both your company and the employee.

NOW READ: Cadbury workers win sick pay case in landmark Federal Court ruling

NOW READ: Three tips for managing annual leave in a small team over the holiday period

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Tracy Angwin

Tracy is the founder and chief executive officer at the Australian Payroll Association and the director of Payroll HQ.

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