At a glance:

  • Learn how income protection and annual leave differ, interact, and impact your financial security during unexpected absences.
  • Uncover the pivotal role of factors like the type of income protection, reason for absence, seniority, and company policies in determining your annual leave entitlements.
  • Take control of your financial well-being by understanding specific policies on annual leave accrual during income protection.



An employee may receive income protection payments from a superannuation fund or insurer if he or she is absent from work due to illness or injury. In this absence, will the employee’s annual leave, personal/carer’s leave, and long service leave still accumulate?


We will explore the concept of income protection insurance and its significance in Australia and shed light on whether annual leave accrues during periods of income protection.


Income protection insurance & Annual leave accumulation aurw



Income Protection Insurance: A Shield for Your Financial Security


Income protection insurance is a vital financial planning tool designed to safeguard Australians against the financial strain that often accompanies unexpected events such as illness, injury, or other circumstances that leave an individual unable to work. It ensures that during such challenging times, a portion of their regular income is replaced, enabling them to meet their financial commitments and maintain their standard of living.


Annual Leave Accumulation


One common question that arises in the context of income protection insurance is whether annual leave continues to accumulate while an employee is on income protection. We will delve into this query in detail later in this blog.


Australia, like many other countries, has a social safety net in place; however, this safety net may not always cover all of an individual’s financial needs in times of crisis. Income protection insurance bridges this gap, providing an additional layer of financial security.


Its importance extends to every Australian employee, as it helps them protect their financial well-being, maintain their lifestyles, and ensure the financial stability of their families during challenging times.



Distinguishing Between Annual Leave and Income Protection


Understanding the nuances between annual leave and income protection is essential, as they serve distinct purposes and operate differently in the Australian employment landscape. Below, we’ll explore the differences and interactions between these two entities.


Annual Leave



Annual leave, often referred to as holiday leave, is a legally mandated period during which an employee is entitled to take time off work while still receiving their regular pay.



Eligibility for annual leave and the associated loading (extra payment) are determined by the industrial instrument that governs the employee’s employment. This instrument can be an award, enterprise agreement, or employment contract.


Leave Loading

Annual leave loading, typically set at 17.5% of an employee’s base rate or their usual pay rate, is an additional payment granted when an employee takes annual leave. However, the exact amount may vary based on the employee’s specific circumstances, such as shift work or weekend work.



Employees accumulate annual leave over time based on their ordinary hours of work. Full-time employees are generally entitled to four weeks of paid annual leave per year, while part-time employees receive a pro-rata amount based on their work hours.



Unless otherwise specified in an industrial instrument, accrued annual leave carries over from year to year, ensuring that employees do not lose their accumulated leave entitlements.



Upon termination, employees must be paid out any unused annual leave, including annual leave loading, if applicable. This payment is a legal requirement.



Income Protection



Income protection insurance is a financial safety net that provides individuals with a portion of their regular income when they are unable to work due to unforeseen events such as illness, injury, or disability.



Income protection insurance is available to individuals who purchase a policy from an insurance provider. It is not tied to employment conditions or industrial instruments. Income protection is equally crucial for entrepreneurs and business owners.



Income protection insurance payments are typically a percentage of the insured individual’s pre-disability income, often around 75%. This payment helps cover essential expenses during periods of incapacity to work.


Income protection insurance & Annual leave accumulation



Interaction Between Annual Leave and Income Protection


Annual leave and income protection can intersect when an employee on income protection decides to take annual leave. In this scenario, the following key points should be noted:


Payment During Leave


When an employee on income protection takes annual leave, they receive income protection benefits in addition to their regular leave pay. This ensures financial stability during their time off work.


Leave Loading


The income protection benefit is calculated based on the individual’s pre-disability income and is separate from any leave loading associated with annual leave.


No Impact on Leave Accrual


Income protection does not affect the accrual of annual leave. Employees continue to accumulate annual leave entitlements as per their employment conditions.




If an employee’s employment is terminated while they are on income protection, they must still be paid out any accrued annual leave, including annual leave loading, as required by law.



Fair Work Act 2009: Impact on Leave Entitlements and Income Protection


Under the Fair Work Act 2009, certain provisions govern the entitlements of employees concerning paid leaves, including annual leave and personal/carer’s leave, during periods of absence from work. It’s important to note that these provisions have implications for employees receiving income protection policy payments.


Entitlement to Leave Under the Fair Work Act 2009


Workers’ Compensation:

Employees receiving workers’ compensation payments and being absent from work are generally not entitled to take or accrue paid leaves, such as annual leave and personal leave, as per the Fair Work Act 2009.


Exemption Clause:

However, there is an exemption provided under section 130 of the Act. Workers may be exempt from the rule mentioned above if their workers’ compensation scheme permits them to take or accrue such leaves. This exemption allows for flexibility in cases where the compensation scheme and employment conditions align.


“Service” and  “Continuous” Service:

The Act defines the terms “service” and “continuous service” under section 22. These terms encompass all forms of employment, except for specific scenarios such as when an employee is absent from work contrary to an employer’s direction (e.g., abandonment of employment, engagement in industrial action), during periods of unpaid leave (unless it’s community service leave or a stand down), or during unpaid authorised absences (e.g., employer-granted leave without pay or employee-granted absence due to health issues).



Impact on Leave Accrual and Income Protection


For employees receiving income protection policy payments, the situation differs:


Unpaid Leave or Unauthorised Absence


While on income protection, an employee is considered to be on “unpaid leave” or experiencing an “unauthorised absence” from work. This status is distinct from workers’ compensation. During this period, the employer does not have a legal obligation to provide income protection insurance.


Non-Accrual of Leave


Because the employee is unable to receive payments from the employer for accrued leave during the absence (as is the case with workers’ compensation), paid annual leave and paid personal/carer’s leave would not accrue during the period of income protection.



Factors Affecting Annual Leave Accumulation During Income Protection


Type of Income Protection


Short-Term Income Protection: Some types of income protection, such as short-term plans, may not permit annual leave accrual while receiving benefits.


Reason for Leave


Disability or Health-Related Leave: If your absence from work is due to a disability or health condition, your employer might be more inclined to allow annual leave accrual during income protection.


Length of Service


Seniority-Based Policies: Certain employers may restrict annual leave accrual during income protection to employees who have completed a specific length of service, typically after a probationary period.


Company Policies and Agreements


Varied Accumulation Rules: The accumulation of annual leave during income protection can vary widely based on company policies and employment agreements. Employers may have their own unique rules regarding leave accrual during periods of income protection.




“Continuous Accrual with Maximum Limit:”

Our company policy allows employees on income protection to continue accruing annual leave. However, there is a maximum limit of 20 days for annual leave accrual during this period. Any excess leave accrued while on income protection will be forfeited.


“No Accrual, but Carryover Permitted:”

Our company policy states that employees on income protection will not accrue additional annual leave. However, any unused annual leave from the previous year can be carried over into the next year, ensuring employees don’t lose their entitlements.



Long-Term Disability Leave and Accumulation of Benefits


When an employee faces a long-term disability that necessitates income protection payments, questions often arise about the continued accumulation of various types of leaves. Below, we address the concern of long-term disability leave in relation to income protection:


Accrual of Leave During Long-Term Disability


An employee who receives income protection payments due to illness or injury may wonder whether they are still entitled to accrue annual leave, sick leave, and long service leave during their absence from work.


Income Protection and Annual and Sick Leave


As per the Fair Work Act 2009, employees receiving workers’ compensation payments, which are similar to income protection in some aspects, are generally not entitled to take or accrue paid leaves such as annual and personal/carer’s leave. This rule is outlined in section 130 of the Act, with exemptions available under specific conditions set by workers’ compensation schemes.


Long Service Leave Consideration


The accumulation of long service leave during a period of long-term disability varies based on the specific state or territory’s long service leave laws. Different jurisdictions may have different provisions regarding this matter.

Example from New South Wales: In New South Wales, long service leave can be accrued by employees even when they are absent from work due to illness or injury.


Caps on Accrual


While many jurisdictions allow for the accumulation of long service leave during illness or injury, there may be caps or limits on how much leave can be accrued in such circumstances. These caps can vary depending on the state or territory’s legislation.


It’s important for individuals in this situation to check the relevant legislation in their state or territory to understand the specific provisions related to long service leave during long-term disability.


As the laws and regulations regarding leave entitlements and income protection may evolve, it is advisable to consult the most current and authoritative sources and seek legal or HR guidance for specific cases. Understanding your rights and entitlements during long-term disability is essential for financial planning and security.


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In this comprehensive article, we have explored the relationship between income protection and annual leave accumulation. We began by introducing the concept of income protection insurance and its relevance, shedding light on the question of whether annual leave continues to accrue during periods of income protection.


We delved deeper into the differences between annual leave and income protection, elucidating how they interact and the critical nuances that define their application.


Crucially, we highlighted several key factors that influence whether an individual’s annual leave will accumulate while on income protection. Factors such as the type of income protection, the reason for the absence, length of service, and company policies all play a pivotal role in shaping an employee’s entitlements. It became evident that the rules governing annual leave accrual during income protection are not uniform and can vary significantly from one employer to another.


In closing, we emphasise the importance of proactively seeking information from your employer’s HR department regarding their specific policy on annual leave accrual while on income protection. This proactive step ensures that employees are well informed about their entitlements and can make informed decisions regarding their financial security during periods of absence from work.

Mike Wallis

Mike has over 25 years experience, having spent his first seven years working as a Broker at Jardine Lloyd Thomson in Melbourne and in 2002 was transferred to JLT’s Accident and Health Department in London. For four years (2002 – 2005) Mike was a specialist A&H Lloyd’s Broker and during this time developed excellent relationships with the Lloyd’s A&H underwriting fraternity. In 2006 he returned to Australia in a senior broking position with overall responsibility for Placement Strategy, including the implementation of underwriting facilities and the various authorities granted by Lloyd’s. Mike was the underwriter at two specialist Underwriting Agencies prior to founding Aspect Underwriting in 2016.