Australia has very clear laws surrounding sick leave and the obligations of employers and employees alike. In general, these are very clearly defined and provide adequate levels of protection for both parties.
However, the chances are that you’re here because you’ve been asked to work, despite taking sick leave. In the rest of this article, we’ve outlined exactly what your obligations are here and what your boss can and can’t ask you to do. As always, make sure you speak with an employment lawyer if you have serious concerns that may require legal action.
Can I Be Denied Sick Leave?
To put it simply, no. If you request sick leave, and can provide a medical certificate or other proof that you are indeed ill, your employer has to grant it. There are some conditions where an employee can be dismissed for taking excessive amounts of leave, but this is rare.
In Australia, the Fair Work Act 2009 states that Australian’s have the right to paid sick leave when they aren’t fit for work. This stretches to include both physical and mental illness, as long as you can obtain medical proof.
Note, however, that there are a few important things to be aware of:
- You are required to provide proof of your illness in the form of a statutory declaration, medical certificate or other legally recognized document. If you don’t, your employer can force you to come to work.
- The exact number of paid sick days you’re entitled to will depend on your contract, but it’s usually set at 10. Following this you can still take sick days up to a certain threshold, but they will be unpaid.
- Casual employees aren’t entitled to paid sick leave.
On top of this, there’s no obligation to respond to messages or other communications from your workplace if you’re on sick leave.
What if I’m Asked to Work From Home?
Okay, so you’ve asked for a sick day, and your employer has agreed, but has asked you to work from home. Do you have to?
In short, no, of course you don’t. If you’ve taken sick leave, you don’t have to work – in the office, from home, or anywhere else. However, there may be cases where you decide that it’s actually in your best interest to work from home.
- When you’ve already used your paid sick leave and are happy to keep working.
- When you’re not seriously ill and are happy to continue working.
- When you want to save your sick leave for an upcoming procedure or other potential problems.
Remember, though, that your employer can never force you to work when you’re on sick leave. The decision is entirely your own.
So, can your boss force you to work when you’re sick? No, of course they can’t!
In Australia, all employees have the right to sick leave. In some cases, you might choose to work from home. But that’s your choice.
If you feel that you’ve been unfairly treated by your employer, speak with your local employment lawyers to determine the best course of action to move forward with.