Managing the Flu Season

By Paris Lynch – Employee Relations Advisor

As the flu season approaches, employers should be aware of the relevant statutory entitlements available to employees who are sick and how to manage these effectively.

Under the National Employment Standards, employees (except casuals) accrue 10 days of paid personal or carer’s leave for each year of service. For part-time workers, this accrues on a pro-rata basis. The entitlement will accrue progressively throughout the year.

An employee can access their personal leave if:

  • they are unfit for work due to illness or injury; or
  • they are providing care or support to a member of their immediate family or household who is affected by illness, personal injury or an unexpected emergency.

What are the notice and evidence requirements?

Employees are obligated to notify their employer as soon as possible if they are accessing personal or carer’s leave, as well as how much leave they expect to take.

An employee must provide evidence that would satisfy a reasonable person that they must access the leave for the reasons above. In most cases, a medical certificate or statutory declaration would generally be considered evidence that would satisfy a reasonable person.

There are situations, however, depending on the circumstances, where other evidence may suffice. For example, if an employee reports they have broken their arm and subsequently comes in with a cast on their arm, this may constitute evidence that would satisfy a reasonable person.

Do we need a personal leave policy?

It is recommended that employers have a personal leave policy that outlines any specific notice and evidence requirements an employee needs to satisfy. For example, a personal leave policy may state employees are required to provide a medical certificate after a certain number of days, or that the employee needs to contact a specific person when they wish to take personal leave.

If an employee has not complied with the policy, managers should follow up with the employee and request what is required in line with the policy. If an employee continually fails to comply without a valid reason, employers can then formally manage the employee in line with their policy.

Employers should always be careful about taking action against an employee who is taking a period of personal leave, whether paid or unpaid. Therefore, it is crucial to seek advice based on the circumstances of the situation. The Employee Relations Advice Centre is available on 08 9365 7660 if you require assistance with this.

CCIWA, Business Law WA and REEFWA has taken all reasonable care in preparing this document. The contents of this document do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific advice for your situation should be sought from CCIWA, Business Law WA or a professional adviser before any action is taken.

Neither REEFWA, CCIWA nor Business Law WA accept responsibility for any claim that arises from any person acting or refraining from acting on the information contained in this document.

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