Your questions answered: What are the specifics of a fair reason to grant carer’s leave?

By Jeff Salton on May 14th, 2018
  1. Employee Management
  2. Leave Provisions


One of our employees has applied for one day of carer’s leave to provide primary care for a grandchild, due to her daughter being in hospital for the birth of a second child. It’s not an unexpected emergency caesarean and the grandchild being cared for by the employee is not ill.

Is this scenario considered a “sudden or unexpected emergency” and thus carer’s leave is appropriate? Or can this be considered as babysitting for which annual leave is more appropriate?


This is a difficult issue. You are correct when you note that carer’s leave is only available where a member of the employee’s immediate family (which includes grandchildren) or a member of the employee’s household, requires care or support because of a personal illness or personal injury, or an unexpected emergency affecting the family member (the grandchild).

The scenario you describe may be a personal illness or injury affecting the grandchild depending on the circumstances surrounding the pregnancy and the birth. Pregnancy is not an illness per se but the birth might be.

In our view, unless it is clear that the mother is fine and all has gone well you should grant the carer’s leave for the one day. Again, if the mother is unable to care for the older child because she is not up to it medically, this could necessitate further carer’s leave. The employee needs to give you satisfactory evidence of this be it a doctor’s note or a statutory declaration.

For more help with deciding what is carer’s leave, read through the L4 Leave – Personal/Carer’s Leave and Compassionate Leave chapter in the Employment Law Practical Handbook. Written in plain English (just like the other 6 chapters on different types of leave) by the lawyers at Holding Redlich, the Handbook is a great reference tool you can rely on when situations like this arise and you don’t know the answer.

Order your copy of the Handbook today and be prepared for tomorrow.


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