Under the Fair Work Act 2009, all full-time Employees are entitled to 4 weeks of annual leave per year, with part-time Employees entitled to a pro-rata amount based on their hours of service. For example, if you are a part-time Employee who works 20 hours a week, you still get 4 weeks of annual leave, but you only receive 20 hours of paid leave in each of those 4 weeks, compared to the full-time amount of 38 hours of paid annual leave in each of those 4 weeks.

Annual leave accrues progressively throughout the year, which means you don’t have to complete a full-year of service to access your accrued annual leave. For example, after 6 months of service you will have accrued 2 weeks of annual leave, and you can access these 2 weeks of annual leave without needing to have accumulated the full year of service. Any annual leave you have accrued in a year and don’t take accumulates and can be used in later years. If, when your employment ends, you have any accumulated annual leave that you have not taken, this needs to be paid out by your employer.

Some Employees are also entitled to additional annual leave depending on their hours of work. Generally this is where an Employee works or is on-call on weekends and they meet certain minimum requirement in the year – for example if they work more than 4 hours on at least 10 weekends per year. Whether you may be entitled to additional annual leave, and the circumstances in which you may receive additional annual leave, will depend on what is in your Enterprise Agreement or Award.

Most Employees will also be entitled to annual leave loading. This is an extra payment that is generally equal to an additional 17.5% of your ordinary pay. Annual leave loading is usually only paid on your first 4 weeks of annual leave a year, meaning if you are entitled to additional annual leave, you don’t receive annual leave loading on this additional leave. In some cases this annual leave loading will be paid at the time you take your annual leave, in other cases it will paid as a lump sum at a certain time of year, such as before Christmas. Again, whether you are entitled to annual leave loading and how this is paid will depend on what is in your Enterprise Agreement or Award.

Unfortunately some Enterprise Agreements and Awards allow your Employer to direct you to take annual leave in certain circumstances. Some of the more common circumstances in which you may be able to be directed to take annual leave under an Enterprise Agreement or Award include:

  • When you have accumulated more than a certain amount of annual leave – for example when you have 8 weeks or more accumulated annual leave.
  • During a shut-down period – for example if a business shuts-down between Christmas and New Year
  • Due to low activity – for example there are so few patients in a hospital at a specific time that the normal level of staffing is not required to provide care to them.

Often where your Employer can direct you to take annual leave, certain notice must be given to you or you must be consulted on this.

For details on what your exact annual leave entitlements are, refer to your Enterprise Agreement or Award.