Understanding carer and compassionate leave

Do you understand compassionate leave and your obligations as an employer?

Requesting to take time off to care for a loved one during terminal circumstances can be an emotional time for anyone. As an employer, having accurate information helps you to support your employees if and when this sensitive issue arises.

We recently received this question:

QUESTION | Is there a limit to who is included under carer’s and compassionate leave?


Both leave types cover immediate family members and household members.

  • A household member is any person who lives with the employee.
  • An immediate family member includes a spouse or former spouse, de facto partner or former de facto partner, child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, or child, parent, grandparent, grandchild or sibling of the employee’s spouse or de facto partner (or former spouse or de facto partner).

An employee may have to take time off to care for an immediate family or household member who is sick or injured or help during a family emergency. This is known as carer’s leave but it comes out of the employee’s personal leave balance.

All employees are entitled to two days of compassionate leave each time:

  • an immediate family or household member dies; or
  • suffers a life-threatening illness or injury.

As an employer, you have every right to request notice as per your leave policy.

An employee taking compassionate leave must give their employer notice as soon as they can (this may be after the leave has started). The employee must tell the employer of the period, or expected period, of the leave.

An employer can request evidence about the reason for compassionate leave (eg. a death or funeral notice or statutory declaration). This request for evidence has to be reasonable. If the employee doesn’t provide the requested notice or evidence they may not get compassionate leave.

Do you need some HR help? Get in touch with Lisa.