October 22, 2020 News

By SDA Organiser, Justin Bergin

History of Sick Leave

The early pioneers of the SDA successfully fought for members to have the right for paid sick leave as a right of employment. Employers did not freely give their employees this right and this battle took many years to win.

In the 1990’s, the SDA was at the forefront of successfully achieving paid Family Leave.

In 2020, members will locate their entitlements to paid sick leave and paid family leave in their Enterprise Agreement or Award under the heading ‘Personal Leave’.

Paid sick leave is payable if the member is sick.

Paid family leave is payable if, for example, the member’s child who is living at home is sick or a person of the member’s household is sick.


Generally, full-time members are entitled to 76 hours paid personal leave and part-time members are entitled to a proportion of the 76 hours depending on the number of hours the part-time member works.

Unused personal leave accumulates meaning unused personal leave in one period accumulates to the next period.
When casual members are ill, they still receive personal leave but their payment is included in their casual loading.

Notification to the employer

All Enterprise Agreements and Awards state that members, (or their agent), contact the company as soon as possible once the member is aware of their non-availability to work their shift.
The Agreement or Award will detail the person or persons who need to be notified if the member is not available to work their shift and on what basis this person or persons need to be contacted.

Further obligations

All Enterprise Agreements and Awards will also state employee obligations including statutory declarations and medical certificates.
Being bullied or harassed

Since I started working for the SDA, I have never met an individual who has enjoyed being ill. Quite simply, when members are sick, they are sick. If members are being hassled or bullied because they are taking personal leave, it is very important that such members commence the grievance procedure. These bullies are not medicos and possess no further knowledge of medicine than the latest customer who walked into your workplace.

Unfortunately, it is often the case that members come to work when they are sick or become sick during the day. All members have the right to leave work when they are sick and it is important to rest or go to your own doctor to enable you to return to good health. No manager has the right to instruct you to stay at work when you are not well and such managers are not complying with their duty of care if they maintain the employee must remain at work and finish their shift.

More information

It is important that members read the Personal Leave clause in their respective Enterprise Agreement or Award. Shop Stewards and Delegates have a copy of the Agreement and will be very happy to assist members in their understanding of this entitlement.

Of course, members are welcome to ring or email the union office for further information on this important matter.