AEU Member Resources

Aboriginal Cultural Leave

What is it? 

Aboriginal Cultural Leave is a newly won Award entitlement for all state government employees. 

It enables an Aboriginal employee to be absent from work to engage in Aboriginal cultural practices and meet cultural expectations as an active Aboriginal community member during their employment. This may include participating in significant Aboriginal cultural events and activities, complying with cultural observances and/or fulfilling cultural obligations.  

Cultural obligations can include cultural and ceremonial obligations under Aboriginal lore, customary or traditional law; or family, customary or community obligations. 

The Award defines an Aboriginal employee as a person who meets the Tasmanian Government’s eligibility requirements for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander programs and services, and has identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander in Employee Self Service (ESS) or the relevant employment management system. 

What is not included?  

You cannot access Aboriginal Cultural Leave for NAIDOC Week activities or the TSS Aboriginal Employee Network Workshops and Gathering. However, the Department supports the attendance of Aboriginal employees at these events (where occurring in paid time) and recognises that attendance is legitimate business and forms part of your ordinary duties. Attendance at these events will be counted as time worked. 

You also cannot access Aboriginal Cultural Leave for any activities where they receive payment; for example, payment to work a mutton bird season or payment to deliver a Welcome to Country.  

Similarly, you cannot access Aboriginal Cultural Leave for government events, meetings and/or activities except for government events and/or activities which are Aboriginal-led and exclusively for Aboriginal participants.   

What is my entitlement as a permanent or fixed term employee? 

To ensure you receive your entitlement, it is essential you identify as an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person in ESS. If you are not sure how to do this, seek the advice of your manager. 

As an Aboriginal employee, other than a relief employee, you are entitled to up to five days paid leave per year (pro rata if you are a part-time employee).  This leave is paid at your normal hourly rate, and may be taken as part of a single day or as a full day/s. 

Cultural Leave is credited to you on the first day of appointment and is replaced with a new credit on the date each subsequent personal leave year commences. The leave does not accumulate and is not paid out when you cease to be an employee.  

What is my entitlement as a relief or casual employee? 

If you are an Aboriginal relief / casual employee, you can take Aboriginal Cultural Leave but you are not entitled to be paid during this time.  

You need to agree with your employer on how long you will not be available to attend, but if you can’t reach agreement you are entitled to not be available to attend work for up to five days each year.  

The employer cannot refuse to re-engage you as a relief employee because you have accessed the entitlement. 

How do I access the leave? 

You need to provide notice to your manager at the earliest reasonable opportunity of your intention to access Aboriginal Cultural Leave.  

Your application for leave will need to include supporting information to show how the leave meets the requirements. 

If you manager refuses to approve your leave, they need to give you the reasons in writing. 

If you are a relief / casual employee, you are entitled to leave work and not be available to attend work while you are on Aboriginal Cultural Leave.  You need to agree with your employer on how long you will not be available to attend, but if you can’t reach agreement you are entitled to not be available to attend work for up to five days each year. 

What do I do if I have a problem accessing my leave? 

If you have difficulties accessing your entitlement, speak to your manager and show them this fact sheet.  If you still have concerns, get in contact with the AEU on 6234 9500 or at support@aeutas.org.au 

If you need help?

  • You have started with the Fact sheet, well done and thankyou any feedback is appreciated.
  • Talk to your workplace rep/delegate.
  • Talk to your workplace’s AEU Organiser.
  • Contact our support team, links below.

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