Annual Leave Loading

This guide unpacks annual leave loading, who is entitled and how it is calculated, and what happens on termination of employment. This guide ensures both employers and employees understand their rights and obligations.

Annual leave loading is a supplementary payment given to employees in Australia during their annual leave. It serves as an extra compensation on top of the base salary to offset the absence of overtime or other penalty rates employees might miss while on leave. Typically, leave loading amounts to 17.5% of the base rate, but it can also match a shift loading or weekend penalty rate, contingent on when the leave is taken. The entitlement to leave loading is not universal and depends on the employee's governing industrial instrument.

Eligibility for Annual Leave Loading

Eligibility for annual leave loading is predominantly determined by the award or enterprise agreement under which an employee falls. For those not covered by such instruments, the terms of the employment contract may outline provisions for leave loading. Full-time workers typically accrue four weeks of paid annual leave per year, with part-time employees earning this on a pro-rata basis. The definition of a shift worker and their entitlements, including additional leave or loading, will be specified in the relevant award or agreement.

Annual Leave Loading at Termination

In instances of employment termination, employees are generally entitled to a payout of their accrued but unused annual leave, inclusive of annual leave loading, if they were eligible for it during their employment. This payout is mandated by the Fair Work Act 2009 and is applicable even if the employment contract suggests otherwise. It is important to note that if an employee's salary package includes leave loading, it may not be paid out separately upon termination.

Payment During Annual Leave

The payment for annual leave typically comprises at least the base rate of pay for regular hours, excluding additional elements like penalties and bonuses. However, the specific method for calculating leave pay, including the addition of leave loading, is dictated by the applicable award or agreement. Some agreements provide for a 17.5% loading or the payment of higher weekend penalty rates for the duration of the leave.

Calculation of Annual Leave Loading

To calculate annual leave loading, one would compare the regular weekly rate plus a 17.5% loading against the weekly rate including weekend penalties, selecting the higher of the two for the leave period. This calculation can vary based on individual working arrangements and the terms of the relevant industrial instruments.

Pro-rata Annual Leave and Loading

Annual leave is accrued on a pro-rata basis, meaning that the amount of leave accrued is proportional to the length of service. Similarly, pro-rata leave loading implies that the leave loading payment is proportionate to the time worked and is added to the regular earnings for taxation purposes.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is Annual Leave Loading? Annual leave loading is an additional payment given to employees in Australia on top of their usual pay while they are on annual leave. It's often calculated as 17.5% of the base salary, but this can vary based on the applicable industrial instrument.
  2. Who is Entitled to Annual Leave Loading? Eligibility for annual leave loading depends on the employee's award, enterprise agreement, or employment contract. Not every employee is entitled to leave loading; it’s typically provided to those under specific modern awards or registered agreements.
  3. How is Annual Leave Loading Calculated? The calculation involves adding 17.5% of the base rate to the usual pay or comparing this amount with weekend penalty rates, and paying the higher amount during the leave period.
  4. Is Annual Leave Loading Compulsory? Annual leave loading is not compulsory for all employees. Its provision depends on the specific terms of the applicable award, enterprise agreement, or employment contract.
  5. Does Annual Leave Loading Apply to Part-time Employees? Yes, part-time employees are generally entitled to pro-rata annual leave loading based on their hours of work, as long as their governing industrial instrument stipulates such entitlement.
  6. What Happens to Annual Leave Loading on Termination? Upon termination, employees are usually paid out any accrued but unused annual leave, including annual leave loading, if they were eligible for it during their tenure.
  7. Can Annual Leave Loading be Included in a Salary Package? In some cases, annual leave loading may be incorporated into a salary package. If so, it is usually outlined in the employment contract and may not be paid out separately.
  8. Are Casual Employees Eligible for Annual Leave Loading? Generally, casual employees do not accrue annual leave and, consequently, are not eligible for annual leave loading. However, specific terms of employment or agreements should be checked for any exceptions.
  9. Is Annual Leave Loading Taxed? Yes, annual leave loading is subject to taxation. It is added to the regular earnings of an employee and taxed accordingly.
  10. Can Employers Refuse to Pay Annual Leave Loading? Employers must adhere to the terms of applicable awards, agreements, or contracts. If these instruments stipulate annual leave loading, refusal to pay it can result in non-compliance with employment standards.


Understanding annual leave loading is essential for both employers and employees to ensure appropriate compensation during leave periods. Familiarity with the specific terms of awards, agreements, or contracts is crucial, as these dictate the applicability and calculation of leave loading. For precise guidance and calculations, seeking professional advice or using specialised calculation tools is recommended.

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