The National Employment Standards allow an employee to take paid
personal/carer's leave if the leave is taken "to
provide care or support to a member of the employee's immediate
family... because of... an unexpected emergency affecting the
The case of Klowss v Groote Eylandt Mining Company Pty
Ltd (C 2013/1515), which was delivered verbally on 24 October
2013, potentially expands the scope of circumstances in which
carer's leave can be claimed on the basis of an
The employee, Lynda Klowss, lived in Cairns and was employed as
a FIFO worker with Groote Eylandt Mining Company Pty Ltd. She
worked a seven-days-on, seven-days-off shift, which coincided with
her husband's shifts with the same employer.
Mrs Klowss had an arrangement with her parents where they looked
after her 14 year old son while she worked away. On this occasion,
her parents were unavailable, so she arranged a babysitter.
Four days before her shift was due to start, the babysitter
experienced a family emergency and had to leave Cairns at short
notice, leaving Mrs Klowss unable to find a replacement.
Accordingly, she informed her employer that she would be unable to
attend her shift.
Mrs Klowss was not criticised for missing her shift, but an
issue arose over whether it should be treated as carer's leave
or annual leave.
Vice President Lawler was "satisfied on the evidence...
that the unavailability of the babysitter due to the family
emergency... did amount to an unexpected emergency affecting the
son of the applicant and accordingly... the applicant was entitled
to carer's leave."
The Vice President focused on whether Mrs Klowss responded
reasonably to an unexpected situation. It was accepted that a 14
year old boy could not be left alone for seven days and it was also
accepted (despite suggestions by her employer to the contrary) that
Mrs Klowss had no other options available to her.
Employers should therefore be aware that an
"emergency" does not necessarily require the sort of
catastrophic circumstances that one might ordinarily associate with
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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