A basic guide to leave entitlements

October 2016 | Download as PDF | Download as PDF poster

As a teacher, you have access to a range of different types of leave, each designed to meet a specific purpose but all intended to help you maintain a healthy work/life balance. It is important that you are aware of and make use of these entitlements. 

Sick leave

A 10 day sick leave credit is allowed at the date of beginning permanent employment. From the beginning of the second year of permanent service, or if employed on a temporary contract, sick leave is accrued at the rate of one half-day for each 18 days of service, based on a seven-day week and 52 weeks of the year.

DET has confirmed that its payroll practice is that the minimum period of deduction is 15 minutes processed in 15 minute increments in excess of this.

If you are absent through illness, you should notify the principal promptly, including the approximate period of absence. You are not required to provide details of the nature of the illness. A medical certificate or suitable documentation is required for sick leave of more than three days’ duration.

If you are subject to a formal process for monitoring performance, conduct or attendance, the Director-General may require that a medical certificate be provided to support any applicat

Meritorious sick leave credit

An additional credit of 65 working days of sick leave on full pay may be added to the sick leave account of a full-time teacher, provided that the teacher has completed 26 years of meritorious service within the Queensland public sector which counted towards long service leave accrual. Additional credit is calculated on a pro-rata basis for teachers who have been employed on a part-time basis. Applications should be made in writing to the appropriate regional director, through the principal.

Infectious diseases

A special credit of leave on full pay, not chargeable to any other leave account, may be approved if you are suffering from an infectious disease contracted during the course of employment. These diseases include German measles, measles, mumps, chicken pox, whooping cough, scabies/sarcoptes and head lice (influenza is not eligible).

Superannuation disablement benefits (income protection)

If you are required to take an extended period of sick leave, and you exhaust your entitlement to paid sick leave, you may be entitled to the payment of an income protection benefit from QSuper, approximately 75 per cent of your salary.

You cannot claim income protection if you need to care for a family member. Income protection can only be paid if you are temporarily ill or injured and are unable to work.

The benefit is payable from the beginning of the third week of continuous sick leave without pay.

You will not be entitled to an income protection benefit if:

  • your employment ends
  • you reach age 65 (if you have an Accumulation Plan)
  • you reach age 75 (if you have Defined Benefit Plan). 
Carer’s leave

You can use sick leave accrued since 1 July 1995 to care for members of your immediate family or household who are ill. You can also seek to use your compassionate (discretionary special) leave for family illness purposes.

Long service leave

Long service leave is available to any employee (permanent, temporary or casual) who has completed 10 years’ continuous service, at the rate of 1.3 weeks on full pay for each year of continuous service, i.e. 13 weeks after 10 years, and a proportionate amount for an incomplete year of service.

You are now entitled to take pro-rata long service leave after seven years’ continuous service, but this does not entitle you to a cash payout.

The minimum period of long service leave which can be taken at any one time is one week. You can access it in periods of no less than one day per week or fortnight, provided the requested periods amount to:

  • five days or more in total, to facilitate the engagement of a replacement temporary teacher; or
  • a lesser period, where there is no requirement to utilise the Teacher Relief Scheme (TRS).

Long service leave can be taken at full or half pay.

Applications should be submitted through the principal and should allow for two clear terms’ notice, unless emergent reasons exist. Applications are granted subject to departmental convenience.

Parental leave

Paid parental leave (PPL) is the umbrella term for paid maternity leave, paid spousal leave, paid adoption leave, paid surrogacy leave, paid pre-natal leave, paid pre-adoption leave or paid pre-surrogacy leave. PPL is not available to foster carers.

To be eligible for PPL, you must have met the qualifying service period of at least 12 months’ continuous service at least once. This service is to be unbroken, or may be inclusive of paid and unpaid leave, which is credited towards service.

For temporary employees, your continuity of service with an employer is not broken if the employer re-employs you within three months of the termination of the previous contract; you must have a contract from which to take the leave.

Birth, adoptive and surrogate parents who have the primary care for a baby are entitled to 14 weeks of PPL from the department and up to 25 hours of pre-natal, pre-adoption, pre-surrogacy leave to attend appointments related to the birth, adoption or surrogacy. This can be taken in one-hour blocks, half days or full days. Evidence of each appointment needs to be provided.

Spouses have access to five hours of pre-natal leave and five days of paid spousal leave. Spousal leave is to be taken in conjunction with the birth.

Applications for PPL should be submitted through the principal, providing 10 weeks’ notice.

Domestic and family violence

If you are affected by domestic and family violence, you can access a minimum of 10 days per year of paid leave. A request for the leave is made to the principal. You do not have to use other leave entitlements before accessing this leave. The leave can be taken as consecutive days, single days or a fraction of a day.

You may also request further paid leave to seek support in relation to domestic and family violence. Such a request is made to the regional executive director, through the principal. The regional director or assistant regional director have the delegated authority to approve further paid leave under the directive, beyond the 10 days.

Special leave

Non-discretionary special leave includes election, local government, Australian Volunteers International, declared emergency or disaster situation, Defence Reserve Forces and bereavement leave.

Discretionary special leave allows the principal to use their discretion to approve up to five days paid/unpaid leave per year per reason. Examples include:

  • an emergency situation or on compassionate grounds
  • sporting competitions
  • seminars, conferences, other than as an official representative
  • returning officers
  • floods, cyclones, bushfires, etc
  • emergency management courses
  • attendance at emergencies
  • platelet and blood donors
  • pre-retirement seminars
  • change of residence
  • leave to effect a transfer
  • court attendance/jury service
  • leave to extend workplace vacations
  • study leave
  • graduation ceremonies
  • marriage leave
  • cultural leave
  • religious reasons
  • leave in lieu of duties at camp
  • other exceptional circumstances.

Extended special leave without salary

There are two categories:

  • leave for family responsibilities to care for dependent child or family member (minimum one term and up to seven years)
  • leave for other purposes, e.g. travel, study or other employment (minimum one term and up to three years).

DET requires two terms’ notice to consider applications for leave without salary, which should be submitted via the principal. The application for leave form can be accessed via OnePortal.

To be eligible to apply, you should have had your appointment confirmed through the submission of a satisfactory probationary report. Approval is at the discretion of the department and is dependent upon the department being able to ensure effective service delivery continues. Teachers on extended special leave can be engaged by DET as supply or contract teachers. However it will not be granted to teachers wishing to work in a non-government school, and they may have to consider resignation.

Industrial relations education (IRE) leave

IRE leave is paid time off to acquire knowledge and competencies in industrial relations, which can allow employees to effectively participate in consultative structures, perform a representative role and further the effective operation of grievance and dispute settlement procedures.

Employees may be granted up to five working days (or the equivalent hours) paid time off (non-cumulative) per calendar year, approved by the chief executive, to attend industrial relations education sessions. Paid leave for industrial training would fall under school cost recovery in accordance with the Teacher Relief Scheme.


Basic Guides provide QTU members with information on their entitlements and can be used by school administration to help in timetabling

Basic Guides are issued for general guidance only and do not constitute professional advice. The issues with which they deal are complex and the Basic Guide necessarily deals only with general principles. No reader should rely on the Basic Guides for the purpose of making a decision as to action but should seek the appropriate advice from the Union on the particular circumstances of that reader. The Union accepts no responsibility for the consequences should any person act in reliance on these Basic Guides without obtaining the appropriate advice from the Union.

More information

The QTU produces a number of documents to help members understand their working conditions and entitlements

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