Your questions answered: Sorting out annual leave and carer’s leave entitlements

By Andrew Hobbs on October 6th, 2017
  1. Annual Leave


We have some employees who have a large amount of accrued annual leave available, and we would like to direct them to take this leave soon. Is there a time frame that we can request they take it by?


If the employee is covered by an award or enterprise agreement then you will only able to direct an employee to take leave in accordance with the provisions set out in that industrial instrument.

All modern awards allow an employer to force an employee with excessive leave (more than eight weeks’ paid annual leave), to take that leave. At that point you may try to reach agreement with them on how to reduce the accrued leave.

If you have genuinely tried to reach agreement with an employee but agreement is not reached, you may direct the employee, in writing, to take one or more periods of paid annual leave, as long as:

  • the employee’s remaining accrued entitlement to paid annual leave is not less than six weeks when any other paid leave arrangements are taken into account;
  • you are not requiring the employee to take any period of paid annual leave of less than one week; and
  • you are not requiring the employee to take a period of paid annual leave in the next eight weeks or after more than 12 months.

If the employee isn’t covered by an award or agreement, then an employer can direct an employee to take leave, but only where the requirement is reasonable.

It will generally be reasonable where the employee has accrued an excessive amount of annual leave, for example where they have accrued more than eight weeks.

Whether the direction to take leave is reasonable will also depend on the amount of notice which is given to the employee, as well as the amount of leave which is directed to be taken.

We have an employee who worked in a permanent full-time role for less than a year before asking to transfer to another, part-time role, in the same company. He took his accumulated annual leave before asking, and he is now working for us on a casual basis while we finalise the paperwork for the new role.

Does the personal and carer’s leave that he accrued during the earlier job still exist in the part-time role? Or is the balance lost due to the casual engagement?



Personal/carer’s leave accrues progressively and accumulates from year to year. The employee’s accrued personal and carer’s leave is not lost when they become a casual, it just doesn’t accrue throughout the period of casual employment.

Before you go…

There’s little doubt in our minds that the workplace issue which confuses employers the most is leave provisions, judging by the queries sent to our Workplace Helpdesk.

The above two queries address represent just a few of the many queries the Helpdesk handles every year on this subject alone – and we can understand why. The rules around these entitlements are complicated and can vary depending on your circumstances and location.

So, in an effort to address your questions, the legal team at Holding Redlich have developed a series of practical workplace guides, including:

The Annual Leave Guide, which answers 22 of the most common questions asked about the annual leave entitlement. It explains clearly, comprehensively and practically, how your employee’s annual leave accrues, when it can be taken and how it should be paid; And

The Personal/Carer’s Leave Guide, which explains your obligations in providing the most commonly utilised leave entitlement. Personal leave refers to the time an employee takes off work due to illness or injury (sick leave) while carer’s leave refers to paid or unpaid leave to provide care and support to a family or household member. (This eBook also includes a free guide to Compassionate Leave.)

Besides getting clarity on your responsibilities when it comes to the different types of leave, these eBooks contain all the relevant documentation you should have on file, including:

  • An Annual Leave Policy template
  • An Unpaid Leave Policy
  • A Leave Application Form template
  • An Annual Leave Record document

Understanding the leave entitlements of your employees demonstrates a commitment to managing your workplace fairly and in accordance with workplace laws.

Don’t hesitate. Download a guide today to ensure you’re up to speed with leave and that your staff are getting the entitlements they deserve.

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