Annual leave is a paid time off entitlement that lets an employee take time off work while still receiving payment. Minimum annual leave entitlements in Australia are governed by the National Employment Standards https://www.fairwork.gov.au/tools-and-resources/fact-sheets/minimum-workplace-entitlements/annual-leave and is usually 4 weeks of paid leave per calendar year however this can be increased under some awards and conditions such as shift workers who receive 5 weeks. 

Annual leave can be taken for any purpose however reasonable notice must be given. It is up to the employee and employer to schedule when leave is going to be taken.

Annual leave is available for most employees with notable exceptions being casual employees who receive a loading in lieu of leave payments however they may still be entitled to unpaid leave for personal reasons.

It is important to note that while some contractors and service providers may not be classified as employees and are exempt from receiving annual leave. To check if you’re a contractor or an employee click the ATO’s link below https://www.ato.gov.au/business/employee-or-contractor/ 

When taking annual leave reasonable notice must be given to your employer and in some cases these times are pre scheduled for example an employer who shuts down over the Christmas period may direct employees to use some of their Annual leave for this period. 

What is reasonable notice of annual leave? Ultimately it is a negotiation between an employee and their employer. One unit of the business, such as a manufacturing facility may have increased requirements on annual leave scheduling than another, such as sales.

Using Annual Leave

If you would like to use your annual leave please speak to your line manager or payroll administrator to organize available dates.

At the end of employment

When employment ends, employers must pay their employee for any unused annual leave they’ve accumulated during their employment. The annual leave payment has to be the same amount that the employee would have received if they’d taken the annual leave during their employment. For example, if an employee would have been entitled to annual leave loading or other payments when they took their annual leave, these loadings and other payments have to be included in the final payment.



Sally wants to take tomorrow off to go to a party, she told a coworker to let her manager know she won’t be in tomorrow. Sally has not given a reasonable notice period nor made contact directly with her line manager. In this case Sally runs a high risk that her leave request will be denied. If she fails to arrive at work tomorrow without approved leave she may face disciplinary action *link*


Kim wants to take school holidays off to spend time with her partner interstate, she has given 6 months notice in writing to her line manager. In this case Kim has done everything correctly and the business should do what it can to accommodate her request and let her know timely and in writing as to the outcome.


Bob has planned an overseas holiday and bought tickets already but has not yet applied for annual leave, Is his employer  required to approve his leave?

No, management is not forced to approve leave that goes against the needs of the business however should endeavor where possible to meet the requests of all employees equally. It is important to note that reasons given to the employee if rejecting a leave request must be clear, timely and preferably in writing

Annual leave training as part of an onboarding and regular refreshers are important to reduce these types of conflicts from occurring

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