A recent Federal Court decision is likely to have significant impacts on employee entitlements with respect to personal leave for employees. Employees,  full-time and part-time,  are entitled to 10 days of personal leave per year of service.  The definition of “10 days” has now been reviewed in the recent court case.

Essentially the definition of  “working day” has been challenged.  An employee (full-time and part-time) should accrue 10 working days of leave for each year of service.  If a person normally works a 12-hour shift on a particular day, then they would be entitled to personal leave for an equivalent day.  Many employers have previously based the accrual on a standard workweek, regardless of the ordinary hours an employee works.

Part-time employees have also been highlighted with respect to the accrual of leave. Many employers have previously applied a pro-rata to personal leave accrual based on the employee’s part-time hours.  This is not in the legislation.  A part-time employee is entitled to the 10 days a year personal leave, even if that employee only works one day a week.

What is personal leave?

Personal leave is defined by the National Employment Standards (NES) and is essentially to cover employees if:

  • They are unfit for work because of their own personal illness or injury, or
  • To provide care or support to a member of their immediate family or household, because of personal illness, injury or unexpected emergency.

Employers Be Aware

Payroll systems generally account for Personal Leave on an hourly basis. Historically the hours accrued were based on a “standard workday”. The legislative requirement is that employees are entitled to 10 working days of leave for each year of service. The leave must be calculated on “working days” and not hours. The definition of “working day” is the portion of a 24 hour period that an employee would be expected to work – particular care needs to be paid for those on shift hours.

The Future of Personal Leave

There may be a review of the Federal Court decision, but until then the issues are clear. Personal leave needs to be reviewed for full-time and part-time employees, and the concept of working days needs should be reflected in the employee’s accrual of personal leave.

Christine Walsh