AEU Member Resources

Leave without pay

At different stages of their career and for a variety of different reasons, Department of Education (DoE) staff find it necessary to apply for periods of leave without pay (LWOP).  This form of unpaid leave is not an automatic entitlement, rather it is granted at the discretion of the Department and as such applications are considered on a case-by-case basis.

All DoE employees are eligible to apply for LWOP, however applications made within the first year following a change of employment status are generally not considered.  This means that where an employee has a change in employment status to permanent (including Flexible Teaching Pool), they must complete 12 months of service as a permanent employee before applying for LWOP (exceptional circumstances may be considered).

It is general DoE policy that LWOP is only granted for periods of up to 12 months at a time and it is rare for LWOP to be granted for an aggregate of more than 3 years.  In rare circumstances the DoE will approve leave for more than 12 months at a time, however the employee must demonstrate exceptional circumstances.  Requests of LWOP beyond 3 years need approval by the Premier.

LWOP (with the exception of maternity, paternity or adoption leave) is considered by the DoE subject to; the employee completing 1 years’ service as a permanent employee, they may be required to exhaust recreation leave and/or any other paid leave (e.g. LSL), they may be assigned alternative duties at a different location upon resumption of duty.

There are a number of factors that are considered where an application for LWOP is received by the DoE, these include:

  • The operational requirements of the Department.
  • Professional, personal development and growth of the employee.
  • Personal reasons of the employee.
  • Family/carer/parenting responsibilities of the employee.

Applications for LWOP should be submitted with supporting documentation relevant to the circumstances upon which the application is made, these can include medical certificates, reports and letters of support.

The following are circumstances where an application for LWOP would generally not be supported by the DoE –

  • For the purpose of undertaking alternative employment (relief teaching for the DoE during periods of LWOP may be considered on a cases-by-case basis but this is not an automatic entitlement).
  • Where an employee has been offered duties in another Government Department or State Authority.
  • Applications based on the involvement in or conduction of private business or related reasons.
  • Applications made within the first 12 months following a change of employment status.
  • Applications for an extension of LWOP beyond 12 months where the reason for leave relates to the partner or spouse’s employment.

The DoE have stated, that where possible, the employee will return to their substantive assigned duties and previous location on return from a period of LWOP.  However, this is not guaranteed and if it is not possible, appropriate consultation should be undertaken by the DoE with the employee.

An employee may return from LWOP early; however, they must seek express written approval from the DoE to do so.

Any period of LWOP of 20 working days or less in any leave year has no effect on leave entitlements or salary incremental (or progression) dates.

Where the total period of leave without pay amounts to more than 20 consecutive working days in any sick leave year, this period is not deemed as service for the purposes of:

  • calculating an employee’s entitlement to recreation leave and long service leave; and
  • determining the day on which an employee’s sick leave entitlement accrues; and
  • determining the day on which an employee is entitled to any salary increment or progression.

An employee who has been granted a period of leave exceeding 20 days is not entitled to any paid leave (including paid parental leave) while on that period of LWOP.

The current DoE LWOP Policy states that Principals may approve LWOP for school based employees for up to a maximum of 20 days and they may recommend LWOP for up to a maximum of 12 months. In addition to this, Managers may approve LWOP for non-school based employees for up to a maximum of 12 months.

The DoE has historically opened a window of time (typically mid-year) for the submission of applications for long leave such as LWOP and LSL.  Although it is preferable for employees to submit their applications during this window, the AEU would support members if circumstances beyond their control necessitated an application outside this time frame.

Applications for LWOP for periods up to and including 20 days must be submitted via the Employee Self Service (ESS) portal on the DoE staff intranet (

Applications for LWOP for periods greater than 20 days must be made using the Application for LWOP Greater than 20 Days Form (Doc ID: TASED-1797567314-8134), which can also be found on the DoE staff intranet.

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