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Annual Leave for full-time workers in Australia is 4 weeks per calendar year and forms part of the National Employment Standards (NES).
The NES applies to all employees covered by the national workplace relations system, regardless of any award, agreement or contract.
This includes the award for call centres known as the Contract Call Centres Award 2020.
The NES includes the minimum entitlements to annual leave, how and when annual leave can be taken, and the pay rate employees should receive.
Common questions about annual leave
Do casual call centre workers also receive annual leave?
The premise behind casual work is that you get paid a premium above the standard full-time rate as compensation for the fact you don’t accrue any annual leave or sick leave entitlements.
There was some media around 2020 after a Federal Court decision ruled in favour of paying a casual employee annual leave however as with most things, the devil is in the detail. For that particular case, there was an argument over whether the employee was considered a casual worker or a permanent part-time employee.
Permanent part-time workers are entitled to annual leave, and in this court ruling, given the particular circumstances of the case, they decided that whilst the employee had been employed as a casual worker, he should have been classified as a permanent part-time employee and therefore was entitled to annual leave.
So whilst the answer is no to annual leave for casual employees, they do receive some other leave entitlements although this tends to differ by state with Victoria appearing to be the place to be if you are a casual worker (but not a business owner…):
- 2 days of unpaid carer’s leave and 2 days of unpaid compassionate leave per occasion
- unpaid community service leave
- 5 days of unpaid family and domestic violence leave (in a 12-month period)
- a day off on public holidays, unless reasonably requested to work.
- Long service accrual
What is Leave Loading?
For some industry sectors employees receive a leave loading on top of their annual leave payment.
The leave loading rate can be as high as 17.5% depending on your award, enterprise agreement or contract.
So when you receive your annual leave pay, if you are eligible you will also receive a nice 17.5% bonus!
Does permanent part-time work also accrue annual leave?
Yes, part-time call centres workers are entitled to annual leave and the rate is accrued pro-rata.
So if you worked 25 hours per week you would still get four weeks holidays, paid at the 25 hours per week rate.
Can an employer refuse my annual leave request?
The employer must not unreasonably refuse an employee’s request to take annual leave. What constitutes a reasonable refusal however depends on a number of things, for example:
- The period during which the employee wants to take leave;
- The operational requirements of the business during that leave period;
- Whether the employee taking leave at that time would be detrimental to the business;
- Whether the employee gave reasonable notice of wanting to take leave at that time.
An employer can also reasonably refuse if the employee does not have any accrued leave to take.
If I often work overtime, shift work etc is that included in my annual leave calculations?
No. Annual leave is generally paid at the employee’s base pay rate for all ordinary hours worked unless an award or registered agreement provides otherwise. Ordinary hours under the NES cannot exceed 38 hours in a week. The base rate does not include:
- overtime rates
Can you cash out your annual leave?
Some awards and registered agreements allow annual leave to be cashed out and provide conditions under which the leave can be cashed out. Most awards or agreements require:
- written agreement between the employer and employee that is signed by both parties;
- The employee to be paid as much as if they had taken the annual leave;
- Capping the amount of leave that is able to be cashed out to a maximum of two weeks of annual leave in any 12 month period.
There is some provision for cashing out annual leave in the Contract Call Centre Award however it’s a pretty complex area (and you may not be under that award anyway) so we always advise, seek professional help!
Paid family and domestic violence leave
From 1 February 2023, employees of non-small business employers (employers with 15 or more employees on 1 February 2023) can access 10 days of paid family domestic violence leave. This includes part-time and casual employees.
Employees must be experiencing family and domestic violence to be eligible to take paid family and domestic violence leave.
The entitlement to paid family and domestic violence leave comes from the NES. It’s a minimum leave entitlement, like paid annual leave or paid sick and carer’s leave.
As defined by Fairwork Australia, Family and domestic violence means violent, threatening or other abusive behaviour by certain individuals known to an employee that both:
- seeks to coerce or control the employee
- causes them harm or fear.
To access paid family and domestic violence leave, the individual could be:
- an employee’s close relative
- a member of an employee’s household, or
- a current or former intimate partner of an employee.
To access unpaid family and domestic violence leave, the individual needs to be a close relative.
A close relative is:
- an employee’s:
- spouse or former spouse
- de facto partner or former de facto partner
- an employee’s current or former spouse or de facto partner’s child, parent, grandparent, grandchild or sibling, or
- a person related to the employee according to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander kinship rules.
1800RESPECT is the national domestic, family and sexual violence counselling, information and support service. If you or someone you know is experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, domestic, family or sexual violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au
Unpaid family and domestic violence leave
All employees of small business employers are entitled to 5 days of unpaid family and domestic violence leave each year. This includes part-time and casual employees.
The entitlement to unpaid family and domestic violence leave comes from the NES. It’s a minimum unpaid leave entitlement, like unpaid carer’s leave.
From 1 August 2023, employees of small business employers can take 10 days of paid family and domestic violence leave. Until then, they can continue to access unpaid family and domestic violence leave.
Can I be forced to take my annual leave?
Mmm. This is a tough one.
Most modern awards permit employers to direct their employees to take a period of annual leave during a shutdown.
Many modern awards include a standard term in relation to this and in the case of the Contract Call Centre Award, there is provision for this provided at least one months notice is provided.
The term shutdown however it important, as it is different from what’s known as a standdown.
A shutdown typically relates to an annual period where the business is closed e.g. over Christmas.
The Fair Work Act 2009 allows employers to stand employees down without pay in certain circumstances when employees cannot be usefully employed.
It may be possible for employees to be usefully employed performing other work for the employer rather than being stood down.
When it comes to COVID, it’s not surprising to learn that it’s complicated!
Under the Fair Work Act Jobkeeper provisions, a qualifying employer can:
- request an eligible employee to take paid annual leave
- agree in writing with an eligible employee for them to take annual leave at half pay for twice the length of time.
Again, we would recommend seeking professional assistance if you find yourself in this situation.