With the ongoing shortage of staff in aged care, members are contacting us wanting to know their rights when it comes to taking their annual leave, and some organisations are actually making it hard for employees to get access to their leave.
Annual leave is accumulated fortnightly and will accrue on a pro rata basis for part time employees. Generally, if you're a permanent or permanent part time employee you accrue 4 weeks annual leave per year of employment. If you're a shift worker who works 10 or more Saturdays or Sundays you are generally entitled to an additional week of leave. Therefore, you should expect to work 48 weeks and be on leave for 4 weeks each year, and if you're a shift worker it'll be work for 47 and on leave for 5 weeks each year.
On this basis your employer should be able to work out how many staff will be needed to be on leave each week to enable everyone to access their accumulated leave. It would be unrealistic if your employer had 300 ECA staff members and only allowed 2 staff to be off at a time as not all staff would be able to access leave each year. It would also be unreasonable for 50 ECAs to be off at the same time.
Annual leave is to be taken at a mutually agreed time subject to the operational requirements of the business. You generally need to give your employer 4 weeks’ notice of your intention to take leave and they should respond to your request within 2 weeks of your request. While this isn’t a legal requirement, it is good practice and many organisations have it enshrined in their enterprise bargaining agreement or even a policy. The only clear exception to this is leave over Christmas where your employer might send out an email asking for expressions of interest over the Christmas period to be submitted within a certain time frame.
Your employer shouldn't unreasonably refuse to authorise you taking an amount of leave that's credited to you or revoke an authorisation enabling you to take leave during a particular period. You can be asked to clear excessive leave if you have over 8 weeks (or over two years’ worth) of accrued leave and generally you can come to an agreement with your employer as to a suitable time to clear your excess leave by a due date.
If you’re having trouble with getting leave booked, it’s time to give us a call.