September 5, 2022 News

By Chris Gazenbeek, SDA Secretary

You’ve worked hard for months, and you finally get a chance to take some annual leave. You’ve planned catch ups with friends, fun day trips and adventures and some much needed ‘you-time’. But oh no, on your second day of leave you get sick!

You’re definitely not alone. With the recent peak waves of COVID-19 occurring during winter, and a nasty flu season, more and more people are experiencing unfortunate circumstance of being sick just when they’ve managed to take a break.

So what can you do?

If you’re sick or injured while you’re on annual leave – and you can provide evidence to your employer, e.g., with a medical certificate, you can convert your annual leave into sick leave and recoup the hours of annual leave to take after you’ve recovered. If you don’t have enough sick leave, you can use what sick leave you don’t have, and choose between continuing your annual leave or unpaid sick leave for the remaining hours.

You should provide as much notice as possible to your employer and advise the expected period of leave.

What if my employer doesn’t allow this?

Annual leave and sick leave entitlements are set out in the National Employment Standards (NES) and therefore most employers are required to allow you to swap your annual leave for sick leave if required and you can provide sufficient evidence. But if you run into trouble – the SDA is here to assist. Our helpful Organisers, Information Officers and Industrial Officers can help you sort this out to get your leave credited.

While not ideal, this is a great way to ensure you can still enjoy a well deserved holiday when you’re feeling better.

An example:

Oliver, a Distribution Centre worker, finally got the opportunity to take two weeks leave. He was looking forward to a fishing trip he had planned, as well as spending some time with his family.

But a few days later, as he prepared to go on his trip he started feeling unwell and took a RAT (Rapid Antigen Test) to ensure he didn’t have COVID-19. Unfortunately his test came back positive, meaning that he would have to spend a week in isolation and miss his trip.

He completed his isolation, and was only able to enjoy a few days of his leave before returning to work. On his return, the SDA site Delegate asked how he had enjoyed his leave.

Oliver recounted how he had missed most of his holiday due to COVID-19, and the Delegate recommended he apply to get his annual leave credited and use sick leave for the week he was off sick.

He helped Oliver complete the paperwork and submit the evidence (in this case, a picture of the RAT and the paperwork from the government when he registered his result). In the next pay cycle, his leave was credited appropriately, so he can now take it at a later date. A result that made him very happy!