All Questions Employment Law What Is Compassionate Leave?
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What Is Compassionate Leave?


Compassionate leave, also known as bereavement leave, is a type of leave all employees are entitled to. Compassionate leave can be taken when an employee’s immediate family member dies or develops an injury or illness that is life threatening.

What Is An Immediate Family Member?

The definition of immediate family includes partner or former partner, child, grandchild, parent, grandparent, sibling, or child, grandchild, parent, grandparent or sibling of the employee’s partner or ex partner. These family members also include step relations, adopted relations and other relations living in the same household.  Where other relations are affected, it is up the employer’s discretion whether to grant compassionate leave.

How Is Compassionate Leave Different To Other Forms Of Leave?

Compassionate leave is separate to personal leave and annual leave. Compassionate leave is a form of additional leave and is designed to only be used if needed. Compassionate leave can be taken anytime it is needed, and is up to 2 days per event of sickness or death of a family member or partner as outlined above. These two days don’t need to be taken together. Though employees should let their employer know they wish to take compassionate leave as soon as possible, in some cases this is not possible. Staff may request compassionate leave after they have begun taking the leave.

How Is Compassionate Leave Paid?

Compassionate leave is paid leave at a base pay rate if it is for a part time or full time staff member, however compassionate leave is unpaid for casual workers. Unlike annual leave for example, compassionate leave can not be paid to an employee if they do not use it.

In order to be granted compassionate leave, an employer can request reasonable proof. Some examples of this proof may be evidence of the relative or partner’s injury, illness, or some sort of funeral notice. There may be more information on the exact type of evidence needed for compassionate leave in a worker’s modern award or other employee agreement.

Justine is a legal consultant at Sprintlaw. She has experience in civil law and human rights law with a double degree in law and media production. Justine has an interest in intellectual property and employment law.

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