This Part provides a member with paid time away from duty when they are unfit for health reasons. For a member on continuous service, this time away from duty is a type of leave.
This Part applies to the following members.
A member of the Permanent Forces.
Exception: A member on a flexible service determination during their nonworking period.
Note: In the total workforce model, a member of the Permanent Forces may be described as a member in Service category 6 or 7.
A member of the Reserves on a period of continuous full-time service.
Note: In the total workforce model, a member of the Reserves on continuous full-time service may be described as a member in Service category 3, 4 or 5 and Service option C.
Subject to the conditions in section 3.2.13, a member of the Reserves who is unable to work due to an illness or injury arising out of their Reserve duty may be provided with benefits in accordance with section 5.3.5 and 5.3.8.
Note: In the total workforce model, a member of the Reserves may be described as a member in Service category 2, 3, 4 or 5.
Note: A Reservist not on a period of continuous full-time service can access the arrangements in this Part only if they meet the additional conditions for eligibility in section 3.2.13. In some cases, the Reservist may be eligible for payment under section 3.2.13.
See: Chapter 3 Part 2 Division 1 section 3.2.13, Reserve member taken to be attending for duty
Note: In the total workforce model, a member of the Reserves not on continuous full-time service may be described as a member in Service category 3, 4 or 5 who is not on Service option C.
A member must use the approved form to apply for leave to be absent from duty under this Part unless the supervisor is satisfied the member is unable to apply for leave on the approved form due to their illness or injury.
1. The approved form is PMKeYS.
2. If PMKeYS is not available the member may apply using form AD097 - ADF Absence Application/Non-effective Service Notification
3. An absence of more than three days should only be approved with the recommendation of a Defence health professional.
See: Subsection 126.96.36.199, Medical absence on recommendation from a health professional
Defence members who become ill or injured after hours or are not in the close proximity to an On-base health facility can call 1800 467 425 (1800 IMSICK) for assistance. 1800 IMSICK is a national 24 hour call service providing nurse triage and health support for entitled ADF members. This service is provided by Medibank Health Solutions under the ADF Health Services Contract.
Related information: More information about this service is available on the following website:
1800 IMSICK is not an emergency number. In an emergency dial 000.
For the purpose of this section, a supervisor must be at one of these ranks or higher.
Warrant Officer Class 2.
A member may apply to take a day of leave to be absent from duty as a medical absence without providing a medical certificate for that day, if they provide a statement that they are unfit to work on that day for health reasons.
A supervisor may grant a day of medical absence under this section to the member on a day-to-day basis for a maximum of three consecutive days, for a period of illness or injury.
Note: Each day must be granted separately by the supervisor. An aggregated period of several days of medical absence can only be granted under section 5.3.5.
In relation to the decision under subsection 3, the supervisor may take any of the following actions.
The supervisor may make the decision without the advice of an authorised health professional.
The supervisor may seek advice from an authorised health professional before making the decision.
Note: Personal or health information directly related to the member must not to be provided without the consent of the member.
The supervisor may at any time direct the member to seek assessment by a health professional, in relation to the reason for the leave.
Note 1: If medical absence is granted under this section, the direction is to be taken as a condition on the grant of the medical absence.
Note 2: If medical absence is refused under this section, the direction ensures that the member seeks prompt advice from a health professional, who may recommend a medical absence for the purpose of section 5.3.5.
Example: The member has been granted on day off by their supervisor without seeing a medical practitioner. The member then contacts the supervisor and tells them that the condition has deteriorated and they need another day off. The supervisor directs the member to see a health professional. The direction makes sure that the member has access to health advice to help them manage any health risks.
The supervisor may decide not to approve the leave.
If the member is being treated under a crisis management plan, the supervisor must only approve leave as recommended by a health professional under section 5.3.5.
A supervisor may approve a member's application to be absent from duty for a period of one day or more, having regard to all of the following circumstances.
The period of leave that the member has applied for.
Any recommendation of a health professional. This could include recommendations as to the member's care, remaining in a health facility or undertaking follow-up treatment. The supervisor may make the grant of leave conditional on these recommendations being followed.
Example: A member who is considered at risk by a Defence medical officer has the requirement for a carer documented in their crisis management plan. In the carer's absence the member stays in hospital. The supervisor grants the medical absence conditional on the member following this care plan.
Any other relevant matter.
The supervisor may direct the member to seek further assessment by a Defence health professional, in relation to the reason for the leave. The direction may be given at any time in relation to the grant of medical absence.
Up to three days of absence can be recommended by a health professional who does not provide services for Defence. If the application relates to an absence of more than 3 days, then the recommendation of a Defence health professional is required to support the application.
Related Information: Regulation 35 of the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 requires Defence to identify risks and hazards and to eliminate or minimise any risks to health and safety.
If a health professional has recommended that a member is unfit for duty, the supervisor may only refuse to grant the member a medical absence for the period of unfitness in either of the following circumstances.
There are alternate duties available that a health professional has confirmed that the member is fit to perform.
Example: The member is recovering from a knee injury and so cannot perform their normal parachute duty and a health professional has recommended they not perform parachute duty. The health professional certifies that the member is able to perform office duties while they recover.
There are no alternate duties that the member is fit to perform and the supervisor has performed a written risk assessment setting out how the risks related to the member's attending for duty can be eliminated or minimised, having regard to all of the following.
The risk to the health of the member.
The risk to any other people.
The risk to operational requirements of the mission for which the member is performing duty.
Any relevant requirement to provide medical or dental treatment to the member.
Example: A member taking part in a multinational exercise as the member is recovering from a knee injury and so cannot perform their normal parachute duty. A health professional recommends a period of medical absence, however the supervisor considers that the while member is recovering they can perform administrative duties which are critical to the exercise outcomes. The supervisor consults with a health professional to seek agreement that the member is able to perform office duties. The health professional does not agree that the member is able to perform alternative duties. The supervisor performs a written risk assessment, and decides that any risk of further injury to the member is mitigated. The supervisor refuses to approve the medical absence and tasks the member to carry out administrative duties only.
Note: The risk assessment in paragraph 1.b would require operational imperatives to be weighed against any adverse outcomes to the member or other members resulting from the sick or injured member continuing to work, rather than being placed on medical absence.
A risk assessment made under paragraph 1.b must document all the following matters.
The reasons the recommendation for leave was made.
Any risks to health and safety that may foreseeably arise if the leave is not granted as recommended.
The work-related activities that may involve an increased risk to health and safety in relation to each of subparagraphs 1.b.i to 1.b.iv.
Consultation between the supervisor and the health professional who has recommended the member's leave, or with a Defence medical officer.
A copy of a risk assessment made under paragraph 1.b must be provided to the supervisor's Commanding Officer as soon as practicable after it has been made.
Note 1: The Commanding Officer may provide a copy of the risk assessment to the Senior Medical Adviser at the regional Defence Health Facility. Information drawn from the assessment may be used at the officer level across Defence to minimise or eliminate risk, consistent with the notes on disclosure of personal information above.
Note 2: Supervisors and Commanding Officers must be aware of their responsibilities to act in accordance with the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, including the potential for personal liability should a decision not to follow the advice of a health professional lead to further illness, injury, aggravation of injury, medical complication or death.
A supervisor may grant a period of leave under section 5.3.4 or section 5.3.5 for a member who has not made a formal application, if both the following conditions are met.
The supervisor has regard to any statement from the member, a person who is responsible to care for the member while they are unfit for duty, or a health professional.
Note: An absence of more than three days should only be approved with the recommendation of a Defence health professional.
See: Subsection 188.8.131.52, Medical absence on recommendation from a health professional
The supervisor is satisfied that the member is unable to formally apply for leave to be absent under this Part within a reasonable period due to their unfitness for duty.
Any salary, allowance or benefit for which a member was eligible for immediately before a medical absence may continue to be paid during the medical absence as long as the member continues to meet conditions required for eligibility, other than attending for duty.
Exception: A member of the Reserves who is eligible for salary during a medical absence under section 3.2.13 is only eligible for salary and travel approved under section 9.2.25. The member is not eligible for Reserve allowance for the period of the medical absence.
Example: Rent allowance continues to be payable to a member of the Permanent Forces who has been living in a rented house and benefitting from regular rent allowance.
To avoid doubt, if the rates of a benefit or contribution that the member is eligible for while on a medical absence change, that change applies in relation to the member.
A member may cease to be eligible for an allowance or benefit during a period of medical absence if they cease to meet a condition required for eligibility, other than attending for duty.
A member's medical absence is conditional on the member only engaging in paid work outside the ADF (as an employee, under a contract or otherwise) if that external work is part of an ADF-approved convalescence or career transition activity.
An absence ceases to be a medical absence if the condition in subsection 4 is not met by the member. No salary or allowances are payable under this Part for the absence and the absence may be an absence without leave.
Related Information: Section 5.3.10 provides that other forms of leave may not be available if the member is unfit for duty.
A member who could reasonably apply for a medical absence because they are unfit for duty must apply for that type of leave and not another form of leave.
A member who is being actively managed on a crisis management plan may access leave under this Part only and must not be required to access their recreation leave or other accrued leave credit while the crisis continues.
If the member is on recreation leave or long service leave at the time they become unfit for duty, the member may apply for a medical absence. If a day of medical absence is granted, the member is to be recredited for the day of recreation or long service leave credit. In effect the medical absence substitutes for the day of recreation or long service leave.
Note: Other rules for recredit of leave for cancellation or recall from leave do not apply in this situation, only the amount of leave credit is returned to the member.
Exception: If the member is on a period of unpaid leave and claiming pay by accessing any form of accrued leave credit, no recredit of the leave is available for the period of the member's illness or injury. This is because the member's absence is approved as unpaid leave and the accruable form of leave (recreation or long service leave) is being used to supplement the member's income during the period. A period of medical absence is taken not to interrupt the unpaid leave.
Example: The member attends for treatment at an ADF health facility during a period of maternity leave. The member receives the required treatment but it does not interrupt the maternity leave, or any arrangements the member has made to use recreation leave credits to extend the period of payment they are eligible for during the maternity leave.
Travel costs may be provided in the following circumstances, to assist with medical needs.
If a member must travel to an appointment relating to a medical or dental condition for which treatment is provided under section 49 of the Defence Regulation, they may be provided with Commonwealth assistance to pay the travel costs. The costs are payable as if the trip was duty travel and any means of travel recommended by a health professional were the most economical means of travel.
Note: The travel is normally organised by the member's unit.
Related Information: Information about the costs payable for duty travel is in Chapter 9 Part 5, Payment of travel costs.
If a member leaves hospital to recover or waits to return to hospital, they may be provided with travel costs under section 9.2.25 if a Defence health professional considers that the travel is necessary to assist the member's recovery.
Example: The member has limited mobility and cannot manage the stairs in their living-in accommodation. Travel costs are approved under section 9.2.25 for the member's journey to temporary accommodation that has no stairs while the member recovers.
The CDF may approve other travel costs if satisfied that the senior medical advisor in the member's region recommends the travel as in the best interests of the member's recovery.
Related Information: Benefits such as assistance with travel costs may also be provided in relation to a member's dependants.
See: Chapter 9 Part 2 Division 5 section 9.2.26, Specialist medical or dental treatment for dependants in remote locations
Persons who can make the decision under paragraph 5.3.11.c on behalf of the CDF:
Commanding Officer or Officer Commanding, not below MAJ(E)/APS 6, in the member's direct chain of command.
Application to Reservists: Yes, on continuous full-time service.
Copies of forms are available on the webforms system or through the Defence Service Centre.
HighRes Department of Veterans' Affairs
(These documents are available on the Defence intranet or through Defence Health.)
Defence Health Manual Volume 2 Part 2 Chapter 3, Medical absence
Defence Health Manual Volume 1 Part 10 Chapter 1, Management of a Defence member at risk of suicide
1800 467 425 (1800 IMSICK)
Defence Service Centre
1800 DEFENCE (1800 333 362)