Unexpected Leave Of Absence
Sign-up to our Newsletter
In May KLC participated in hosting a Cancer Council Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea!
Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea is the easiest way to bring people together to raise funds that will make a big difference to those impacted by cancer. The idea is simple, just get your friends, colleagues or community together over some tea and treats, and help fund Cancer Council’s life-saving research, prevention, support programs, and information.
During the clean-up from our Biggest Morning Tea the topic of unexpected and unforeseen sick leave arose in the KLC office- questions such as how do people financially afford treatments for illnesses when they aren’t working? And as an employer what is our responsibility to an employee on an extended period of sick leave?
Did you know?
“Around 786,000 Australians experienced a health condition resulting in time off work and income support from a government or private source during the 2015/16 financial year. At least a further 6.5 million people access sick leave for short-term illness”
For many individuals and families facing long periods of sick leave due to illness it begs the question, what are my rights when it comes to protections from dismissal whilst on sick leave.
The Fair Work Act 2009 determines that you are protected from dismissal whilst on long period of sick leave if:
- The total time away due to illness or injury is less than 3 consecutive months, or a total of less than 3 months over a 12 month period
- You are taking paid, unpaid or a combination of paid and unpaid sick leave during the absence
- You provide evidence of their illness or injury
What if I am required to take more than the three months off?
By the letter of the law and under the Fair Work Act 2009 you as an employee are no longer protected from being dismissed (even if you provide evidence) if:
- The total length of your absence due to illness for injury is more than 3 consecutive months, or a total of more than 3 months over a 12 month period
- Over that period, you have only taken unpaid leave or a combination of paid and unpaid leave
- Employees who take a period of sick leave that is paid the whole time are protected from dismissal regardless of how long they are on leave
As an employer what should I be aware of?
Employees can still challenge the termination of there employment by:
- Making an unfair dismissal application if the reason for the dismissal is harsh, unjust or unreasonable
- Making a general protection claim if the reason for the dismissal is another protected reason
- Making a claim under state or federal anti-discrimination law
As an employer ensure that you are exercising due diligence and exploring all your options when it comes to the employee that is on extended sick leave. Consider options such as an agency temporary staff member to work casually in the position, or even using an agency to source a contractor or consultant to see you through the period of leave.
At the end of the day the day you as the employee feel encourage knowing that the organisation you work for is supportive and is assisting you during this time of stress and hardship. This allows you to focus on your health and welling, after all the number one priority.
- Fair Work Act 2009 s.351, 352 and 385
- Fair Work Regulations 2009 r.3.01
Back to Articles