- Cancer Information
- Practical concerns
- Cancer, work and you
- For workers
- Working while caring
- 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 may be able to use personal leave (which includes sick leave and carer’s leave). Casual employees can take 2 days of unpaid carer’s leave at a time.
The National Employment Standards outline the rules for personal leave. These include 10 days of paid personal leave each year for 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 leave, and they may ask for a medical certificate or other evidence confirming that you are unable to work.
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.
Learn more about the different types of leave you may be able to take.
If you’ve used all of your paid personal leave, you are entitled to 2 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. 2 working days in a row) or in separate periods as agreed by your employer (e.g. 4 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 request paid personal leave or unpaid carer’s leave, your employer can ask for basic facts about why you need time off. They may need medical documents if you request extended leave. This allows them to approve the leave and make sure it’s recorded correctly. An employer cannot take action against you for taking your leave.
Podcast: Cancer Affects the Carer Too
Brooke Russell, Principal Occupational Therapist, WA Cancer Occupational Therapy, WA; Bianca Alessi, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA; Dr Prunella Blinman, Medical Oncologist, Concord Cancer Centre, Concord Repatriation General Hospital, NSW; James Chirgwin, Physiotherapist, The Wesley Hospital, QLD; Danielle Curnoe, Consumer; Simon Gates, Barrister, Tasmanian Bar, TAS; Justin Hargreaves, Medical Oncology Nurse Practitioner, Bendigo Health Cancer Centre, VIC; Kaylene Jacques, Director, People and Communications, Cancer Council NSW; Alex Kelly, Senior People Attraction Advisor, Human Resources, Allianz Australia Insurance, NSW; Legal reviewer; Georgina Lohse, Social Worker, GV Health, VIC; Lesley McQuire, Consumer, Cancer Voices NSW.
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