How long can an employee be absent from work?

This is one of the most asked questions in  Australian workplaces and one of the least understood. Here is the correct information about his vexed point:

  • Permanent employees (i.e. employees who are not casual) accrue 10 days every year on a rolling basis for what is now called “Personal Leave”. It used to be called Sick Leave but can now also be taken as Carers Leave, hence the name change.
  • However once an employee has exhausted his/her Personal Leave this does not mean that their employment can be terminated.
  • Section 352 and Regulation 3.01 of the Fair Work Act give absolute protection to an absent employee for three months. The absence must be related to illness or injury.

Remember, this is NOT about Workers Comp. If an employee has a valid Workers Comp claim the statutory protection extends to six and in some jurisdictions two years. However for non Workers Comp absences due to illness or injury there is a three month protection.