Annual leave, also known as holiday pay, allows you to be paid while you take time off work. Annual leave became standard in 1970 after a hard-fought union campaign.
Full-time, permanent employees have the right to four weeks of annual leave. If you work part-time you are entitled to the same amount of leave, proportionate to how many hours you work each week.
Depending on the award or agreement that covers your workplace, you may even be entitled to more than four weeks. For example, full-time shift workers are usually entitled to a minimum of five weeks.
How annual leave accumulates
Annual leave accumulates from the day you start working, even if you’re on probation. It also accumulates while you are:
- On another kind of paid leave
- Doing community service
- On jury duty
However, annual leave does not accumulate while you are:
- On the Federal Government’s Paid Parental Leave Scheme
- On unpaid leave – unless you are doing community service
At the end of the year, any unused annual leave you have carries over to the next year. If you leave your job and still have annual leave saved up, you are entitled to have it paid out.
Taking annual leave
You are entitled to take as much annual leave as you have accumulated. There is no minimum amount and you can take it as soon as you like, including while you’re on probation.
You are also free to choose how you take your annual leave. You can choose to take your leave one day at a time or take one long holiday. The only limit is the amount of leave that you have saved up.
Most employers require that you submit a request before taking annual leave. You and your employer must agree on the period you will take for your annual leave. However, your employer can only refuse your request if they can demonstrate a good reason for doing so.
Some awards and enterprise agreements give you extra options for taking annual leave, such as taking leave in advance or cashing it out.
Public holidays or any other scheduled days off that fall while you are on annual leave do not count as part of your leave. You get these days off the same as you normally would.
In certain circumstances your employer may direct you to take leave, such as if you have accumulated an excessive amount of leave, or if your workplace is being forced to close. Most of the time, however, it is your choice when you take your leave.
Pay while on annual leave
Many awards and enterprise agreements require that your employer pay you leave loading, an extra percentage on top of your base rate of pay. This is usually 17.5% or your weekend rate of pay – whichever is higher.
Your employer is required by law to provide a breakdown of leave loading on your payslip, as well as showing how much leave you have accumulated.