As an employer, it can be difficult keeping up with all the different leave entitlements that are available to employees.

In this article, we explain all the paid and unpaid leave options for Australian employees. The leave entitlements are applicable for all employees in Australia, although there are some leave entitlements that are not applicable for casual employees.


Annual Leave

Full time employees are entitled to four weeks paid annual leave per year and part time employees get the pro rata equivalent based on their ordinary hours.  Annual Leave gradually accrues from the first day of employment.  Shift workers (as defined by s87 of FWA or modern award / enterprise agreement) may get up to 5 weeks paid annual leave per year.  Casual employees are not entitled to annual leave.  If the annual leave is unused, it carries over to the following year. Most awards generally require that a leave loading of 17.5% is paid during period of annual leave.  Annual leave and any applicable loading are paid out on termination of employment including termination for serious misconduct.


Long Service Leave – LSL

All employees are entitled to long service leave after a certain period of continuous employment with the same employer.  Each state and territory determine how much long service leave an employee is entitled to and how long they must have been working with the employer for.   Untaken Long Service Leave is paid out on termination as per employee eligibility.   Please refer to your state or territory for further information.


Parental Leave and related entitlements 

Parental leave entitlements are available to all Australian employees who have worked with their employer for at least 12 months before the period of leave is taken. Parental leave entitlements include maternity leave, paternity and partner leave, adoption leave, special maternity leave, and a safe job and no safe job leave.  Employees have a guarantee to return to their pre-parental leave position.

For casual employees to be eligible they need to have been working for their employer on a regular and systematic basis for at least 12 months and have a reasonable expectation of continuing work with the employer on a regular and systematic basis, had it not been for the birth or adoption of a child.  Employees have a guarantee to return to their pre-parental leave position.


Personal/carer’s leave

Personal and carer’s leave allows an employee to take time off when they are ill or injured or taking care of someone who is.  Entitlement is subject to employee providing evidence to the employer such as a medical certificate.


Compassionate leave

Compassionate leave can be taken in the event of an employee’s member of their immediate family or household die or contract a life-threatening illness or injury, a baby in their immediate family or household born stillborn, the employee or their partner has a miscarriage. Employee are entitled to 2 days compassionate leave each time.


Unpaid family and domestic violence leave

All employees full time, part time and casual are entitled to 5 days unpaid family and domestic violence leave per year.  Family and domestic violence means violent, threatening or other abusive behavior by an employee’s close relative that seeks to coerce or control the employee causes them harm or fear.  In May 2022, the Fair Work Commission issued a provisional decision to include paid family and domestic violence leave in awards for permanent employees. This decision isn’t finalised yet and the Commission has asked for input from interested parties before issuing a final decision.


Community Service Leave

All employees are eligible to take community service leave for activities such as voluntary emergency management leave or jury duty.  Only jury duty is paid leave. There is no limit on the amount of community service leave an employee can take.


Religious and Cultural Holidays 

Employers should offer their employees flexibility to celebrate Religious and Cultural Holidays.

Employee leave entitlements come from the National Employment Standards (NES). An award, registered agreement , or contract of employment can provide for other leave entitlements but they can’t be less than what’s in the NES.


About Employment Innovations

Employment Innovations is one of Australia’s leading providers of employment services designed to increase productivity and ensure compliance. Its services and solutions include all the tools that every Australian small to medium sized employer needs – including workplace advice, legal services, payroll solutions, migration, human resource management and HR software.



The information provided in these blog articles is general in nature and is not intended to substitute for professional advice. If you are unsure about how this information applies to your specific situation we recommend you contact Employment Innovations for advice.