Diane has asked for two days off work for elective surgery – is her request classified as personal leave or annual leave? Our Workplace Advice Line answers this and more of your frequently asked questions about personal leave.

Personal leave is complicated. NSW Business Chamber’s Workplace Advice Line often receives calls on the issue. From accrual to unpaid leave, it’s hard to wrap your head around, so we’ve compiled a list of your frequently asked questions to help with the basics. 

Does personal leave accrue from year to year?

Yes, for each year of service with their employer, an employee is entitled to 10 days of personal/carer’s leave. Personal/carer’s leave accrues progressively during a year of service according to the employee’s ordinary hours of work, and accumulates from year to year.

Can I request evidence when an employee takes personal leave?

Yes, you can ask for evidence ‘to satisfy a reasonable person’. This could be a medical certificate or statutory declaration.

Can I request evidence when an employee takes carer’s leave (paid or unpaid)?

Yes, you can ask the employee to provide evidence they need to provide care or support to a member of their immediate family or household. This could include a medical certificate for a sick or injured child of the employee.

Can an employee take unpaid carer’s leave when they have enough paid personal/ carer’s leave to cover the absence?

No, the employee must first take the paid leave until the accrual runs out.

Can an employee take more than two days’ unpaid carer’s leave at a time?

Yes, but only if the employer agrees. An employer has no obligation to offer ongoing unpaid carer’s leave. An employee is only entitled to two days (or as otherwise agreed) per occasion.

For example, an employee caring for a child with a long term illness would only be entitled to two days of unpaid leave, unless the employer agreed otherwise.

However, if they returned to work and their partner fell ill, they would be entitled to another two days of unpaid leave. 

How much notice does an employee have to give of their intention to take leave?

Notice must be given to the employer as soon as the employee can (which may be after the leave has started), and the employee must advise of the period, or expected period of the leave.

Can an employee take paid personal leave to have elective surgery?

An employee who is not fit for work as a result of elective surgery may take paid personal leave. This is not annual leave.

If you have any other questions about personal leave or other workplace matters, please call our Workplace Advice Line on 13 29 59.