Compassionate and bereavement leave

What is Compassionate leave?

Compassionate leave, also referred to as bereavement leave, is a form of paid time off that is granted to employees following the death of a close friend, family member, child, or spouse.

This dedicated time off is provided to allow employees to cope with the emotional and psychological impact of their loss.

It acknowledges the need for individuals to grieve, attend funeral services, make necessary arrangements, and take care of personal matters related to the bereavement.

When can compassionate leave be taken

Compassionate leave can be taken in Australia under the following circumstances:

  • Immediate Family Member: If an employee’s immediate family member or someone in their household dies or contracts a life-threatening illness or injury, they are eligible for compassionate leave.
  • Stillborn Baby: If a baby in the employee’s immediate family or household is stillborn, they are entitled to take compassionate leave.
  • Miscarriage: In the unfortunate event of a miscarriage experienced by the employee or their spouse or de facto partner, compassionate leave can be taken.

*More information is available about Parental leave for stillbirth, premature birth or infant death.

How does compassionate leave work?

Employees are eligible to take two days of compassionate leave when they lose an immediate family member. If you may be required to provide evidence in the form of a death certificate, death notice or obituary.

Full-time and part-time employees are entitled to paid time off for bereavement. However, casual employees can take compassionate leave that’s unpaid. If you leave a job, compassionate leave is not paid out in your severance package.

How much compassionate leave can be taken?

Employees can take up to two days of compassionate leave whenever they need it, such as in the event of an immediate family member’s death or a life-threatening illness or injury. The leave can be taken in the following ways:

  • A single continuous 2-day period.
  • Two separate periods of 1 day each.
  • Any separate periods as agreed upon with the employer.

Employees should provide notice of their intention to take compassionate leave and provide an estimated duration of their absence as soon as possible.

However, in certain situations like sudden medical emergencies or deaths, it is acceptable for employees to notify their employer after they have already commenced their compassionate leave.

What if an employee needs more than two days off?

If an employee needs more than two days off for compassionate reasons, they can talk to their employer about alternative leave options like sick leave, annual leave, time off in lieu, or unpaid leave.

It’s essential to communicate with the employer to find a solution that works best for both parties.

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