Many workplaces are currently affected by the flooding across Queensland and northern New South Wales.
There are several paid and unpaid leave entitlements employees may be able to access if they are affected by the floods or to assist with emergency management activities.
Taking annual leave
Annual leave can be taken at any time an employer and employee agree. An employer can only refuse a request for annual leave if the refusal is reasonable.
In some cases, an employer may be able to direct an employee to take annual leave. These rules can be found in awards and registered agreements.
Taking sick or carer’s leave
Employees (other than casual employees) affected by a natural disaster or emergency, may be entitled to take paid sick and carer’s leave.
An employee can take paid sick leave when they can’t work because of a personal illness or injury.
Whether personal leave can be used will depend on each individual circumstance. The determining factor in each case is the employee’s ability for work that day.
An employee can take paid carer’s leave to care for or support a member of their immediate family or household who is sick, injured or has an unexpected emergency.
For example, an employee may be able to take carer’s leave if their child’s school closes unexpectedly due to a flood.
An employee has to let their employer know that they are taking sick or carer’s leave, and they may need to provide evidence.
Taking community service leave
Under the NES, employees who are members of a recognised emergency management body are entitled to take unpaid community service leave for certain emergency management activities such as dealing with a natural disaster.
There is no limit on the amount of community service leave an employee can take. All employees, including casuals, are entitled to take community service leave for certain voluntary emergency management activities if what they are doing fits the definition of a voluntary emergency management activity.
This leave applies to the activity and reasonable travel and rest time.
More information can be found: Employment entitlements during natural disasters and emergencies
Floods may impact whether some workplaces can stay open. If a business can’t open or needs to temporarily close, employers may be able to stand down an employee in some circumstances. This includes when an employee can’t do useful work because of:
- equipment breakdown if the employer isn’t responsible for it
- stoppage of work for which the employer can’t be held responsible, including severe and inclement weather or natural disasters (such as floods).
During a stand-down period, an employee:
- doesn’t need to be paid
- accrues annual leave and personal leave in the usual way.
Note: Some awards or registered agreements may have additional rules about when an employer can stand down an employee without pay.