- Cancer Information
- Practical concerns
- Cancer, work and you
- For workers
- Information for working carers
- Taking time off work
Taking time off work
You may need to take time off work or to stop working for a while to look after the person with cancer. If you need to take a day off to care for a member of your immediate family or household, you can use personal leave, which includes sick leave and carer’s leave.
The National Employment Standards outline the rules for personal leave. These include allocating 10 days of paid personal leave each year to full-time employees. Part-time employees receive this entitlement on a pro rata (proportional) basis, based on the number of hours they work. You must let your employer know that you are taking the leave, and your employer may require a medical certificate or other evidence confirming the need to take the leave.
If you’re considering using annual leave or long service leave, you may want to talk to your employer about your situation. It might be possible to organise flexible working arrangements or take unpaid leave so you don’t have to use all of your paid entitlements.
See Leave entitlements for more information about the different types of leave available under the National Employment Standards.
If you’ve used all of your paid personal leave, you are entitled to two days of unpaid carer’s leave. These days are reserved for caring for a member of your immediate family or household. Both casual and permanent employees are entitled to this leave. You can take the leave all at once (e.g. two working days in a row) or in separate periods as agreed by your employer (e.g. four half-days in a row).
If you need more time off and you have used your personal leave and unpaid carer’s leave, you can apply for leave without pay. Keep in mind that your employer doesn’t have to approve this request.
If you ask for paid personal leave or unpaid carer’s leave, your employer can request basic facts about why you need time off. They may require medical documentation supporting a request for extended leave. This allows them to approve the leave and make sure it’s recorded correctly.
Kerryann White, Manager, People and Culture, Cancer Council SA; Nicola Martin, Principal, McCabe Curwood, NSW; Jane Auchettl, Coordinator, Education and Training Programs, Cancer Council Victoria; Craig Brewer, Consumer; Alana Cochrane, Human Resources Business Partner, Greater Bank Newcastle, NSW; Shona Gates, Senior Social Worker, North West Cancer Centre, North West Regional Hospital, TAS; Dianne Head, Cancer Nurse Coordinator, Metastatic Breast Cancer, Crown Princess Mary Cancer Centre Westmead, NSW; Alex Kelly, Talent Acquisition Business Partner, Aon, NSW; Prof Bogda Koczwara AM, Senior Staff Specialist, Department of Medical Oncology, Flinders Medical Centre, SA; Sharyn McGowan, Occupational Therapist, Bendigo Health, VIC; Jeanne Potts, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Victoria; Michelle Smerdon, Legal and Financial Support Services Manager, Cancer Council NSW. We would also like to than the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title.
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