Doctor, give me the news: Employee entitlement to personal/carer’s leave

It’s not uncommon for an employee to ask for a few hours off to visit their GP or attend a specialist medical appointment. They’re not sick, but there’s something they need attended to. Are they entitled to personal/carer’s leave?

Surprise, surprise. The answer is not straightforward.

While each case needs to be assessed on its own facts, as a general proposition an employee is not necessarily entitled to paid personal/carer’s leave to attend a routine medical appointment or to have elective surgery. This is because, strictly speaking, illness or injury hasn’t prevented them from attending work. That said, the after effects of the appointment or elective surgery may entitle an employee to paid personal leave.

For example, if an employee visits the dentist to have a tooth filled or some sort of other cosmetic procedure, they won’t be entitled to paid personal/carer’s leave because they can’t establish their inability to work that day. However if the employee had a wisdom tooth taken out or some other type of major dental procedure, they would be entitled to paid personal/carer’s leave for a period following the procedure as determined by the medical practitioner.

Similarly, an employee who attends a dentist because of a severe toothache or similar ailment could claim paid personal leave in circumstances where the illness would prevent them attending work that day.

It’s also worth noting that an employee may qualify for paid personal/carer’s leave when they need to attend a medical appointment with a member of their immediate family who is in their care. For example, an employee who needs to take their child to the doctor will qualify for paid personal/carer’s leave because they are providing “care and support” to a member of their immediate family.

The bottom line

An employee is not usually entitled to paid personal/carer’s leave to attend a medical appointment. However they may be entitled to the leave as a consequence of attendance at such an appointment.

Not sure?

If you have questions about whether one of your employees is entitled to paid personal/carer’s leave, call the REEF Helpline on 1300 616 170. One of our Workplace Relations Advisors will be able to answer your questions.