Sick leave around the world: how does Australia stack up?

by Human Capital12 May 2014
When it comes to paid sick leave entitlements, Australian employees are doing better than their counterparts in the United States.

Here, sick leave is deemed a type of personal leave under the National Employment Standards and full-time employees are entitled to 10 days’ paid personal leave per year. That includes sick leave and paid carer’s leave.

Part-time employees receive a pro-rata entitlement to sick leave, based on the number of hours they work. Paid personal leave accumulates from year to year. Different rules apply for workers covered by an award or an agreement.

But in the US, there’s no federal requirement for paid sick leave. And even in countries like Canada, where leave is provided, payment does not start from the first day of illness.

Countries with no paid sick leave
United States
India
Somalia
Angola
Chad
Georgia
Syria
Macedonia
Liberia
Sierra Leone
Guinea-Bissau
Mozambique
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
 
Sick leave entitlement internationally

New Zealand
Most employees receive a minimum of five days’ paid sick leave per year after the first six months of continuous employment and an additional five days’ leave after each subsequent 12-month period. The leave can be used when the worker is sick or injured, or when their spouse or a dependant is sick.

United States
There are no federal legal requirements for paid sick leave, but companies subject to the Family and Medical Leave Act are required to provide unpaid sick leave. The act provides for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for certain medical situations for the employee or a member of their immediate family. Workers are eligible for unpaid sick leave if they have worked for their employer for at least 1,250 hours over 12 months.

United Kingdom
Workers may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay, which is paid leave for up to 28 weeks. Companies can offer more leave under their own sick pay schemes, but they cannot offer less.

Canada
Public service employees are entitled to paid sick leave. Under the Canada Labour Code, federally-regulated employees are entitled to unpaid sick leave of up to 17 weeks if they have worked for the same employer for three months, during which time their job security is guaranteed. They must produce a medical certificate if requested by their employer. Some employees may be entitled to cash benefits under the Employment Insurance Act.

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