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  • Unite

Your Sick Leave Rights

Updated: Jun 7

Because humans get sick sometimes 

1. If you, your spouse, or a person who depends on you for care is sick or injured, you don't have to go to work. In fact, it's a bad idea to go to work sick. You might infect your work mates or slow your recovery.

2. If you're sick, you need to notify your employer as soon as reasonably possible. In some circumstances, (eg. you're in a coma), you might not be able to call before your shift starts. But that's OK, cause it's about what's reasonable. Remember, you notify your employer, you don’t "apply" for sick leave - it's a legal right.

3. By law, all workers are entitled to 10 days paid sick leave after 6 months in a job. You'll then get 10 days per year. Sick leave you don't use carries over to the next year (to a max of 20 days) Check your agreement though. You'll never have less than 10 days, but some Union Collective Agreements have more or start earlier! RBL, MacDonald’s (And soon BK) Collective Agreements include improvements over the minimum sick day entitlements.

4. You have a right to privacy. You don't have to tell your boss what's wrong with you, especially if it's personal. Take your medical advice from a Dr or someone who's qualified to give it, not your Manager.

5. If your employer asks you for a medical certificate/proof - they have to pay your expenses (unless you're sick for 3+ days consecutively, then you pay for proof). If you've been away for under 3 days and your employer asks for proof, ask them why. They need to have a reason to doubt you. Going to the Dr. can be costly. Reasonable costs can include travel, even childcare 

6. Genuine sick leave use is not a form of misconduct. False sick leave use can be a form of misconduct, but suffering real illness or injury isn't something you should be punished for. You shouldn't be disciplined for something that's out of your control. If this occurs, contact your delegate or organiser at Unite Union.

7. If you have notified your employer about taking sick leave, but have not used the employers’ correct processes, this is not a reason for them to withhold pay. You should however, use the correct processes whenever reasonably possible as not doing so may result in you being disciplined for not following reasonable instructions or policy.

8. You need to try to notify your employer that you will be taking sick leave 2 hours before your shift begins If you are able to, but as soon as reasonably possible otherwise.

9. Sick leave is also can be used for appointments or treatment. You can book sick leave in advance.

If you have any questions about or problems accessing sick leave, contact Unite - we're here to help you stand up for your rights!

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