Taking time off work

You may need time off work or to stop working for some time to look after the person with cancer. If you need to take a day off to care for a member of your 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, including allocating 10 days of paid personal leave each year to full-time employees. Part-time employees receive this entitlement on a pro-rata basis. Some employers may have rules about taking personal 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.

For more information about the different types of leave available under the National Employment Standards, see Leave entitlements.


Unpaid leave

If you’ve used all of your paid personal leave, you are entitled to two days unpaid carer’s leave. These days are reserved for caring duties. Both casual and permanent employees are entitled to this leave.

You can take the leave all at once (e.g. two consecutive working days) or in separate periods as agreed by your employer (e.g. four consecutive half-days).

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. Your employer may require medical documentation supporting a request for extended leave. This allows your manager to approve the leave and make sure it’s recorded correctly.

This information was last reviewed in January 2017
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