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Sick leave should not be confused with working from home

Our IEU Organisers have been contacted by a number of members asking for advice on whether their employer can make them work when they are home on sick leave.

The simple answer? No. Sick leave is sick leave.

The National Employment Standards define Paid Sick Leave as:
“An employee can take paid sick leave when they can’t work because of a personal illness or injury. This can include stress and pregnancy related illnesses.”

The definition clearly states ‘they can’t work’ which is what it should be. Employees should use sick leave to recover from illness so that they can return to work.

The IEU similarly reports that a number of employers expect teachers to provide detailed lesson plans including differentiation for individual students. Given that schools have lesson planning saved on a shared system, there should be no need for the teacher taking sick leave to do any work whilst on sick leave. The relief teacher can access the planning from the shared drive and use their own professional judgement on how to teach the planned lessons.

Not allowing employees to utilise their sick leave may even create a health and safety risk.

Exhaustion and stress is widely report across Australian schools, adding further stress by asking teachers to work on their sick leave is not assisting their ability to recover and return to work.

IEU members should contact our office on 8410 0122 if they are being asked to work whilst on sick leave.