Isn't it time we got ‘wedding leave’?
IF YOU'RE planning a wedding while holding down a full-time job, you better hope you live in Europe.
Because over in France, employees receive a minimum of four days of paid "marriage leave", while their neighbours in Spain get a luxurious 15 days off when they tie the knot, which can be used to attend hens nights, bachelor parties, bridal showers, the wedding itself or a honeymoon.
In Australia, we're not so lucky, as the law does not provide employees with a statutory right to time off specifically because they are getting married or going on a honeymoon.
Unsurprisingly, a quick straw poll at our sister paper's news.com.au office found engaged workers would rather we adopted the European model.
"Planning a wedding is really time-consuming and pretty stressful, so to have paid leave specifically to focus on getting stuff done ahead of the event would be a huge bonus," one colleague said.
Another added: "We have found that during the planning process, meeting with vendors usually needs to occur midweek as most businesses are tied up doing weddings on weekends. Meeting midweek obviously means taking time off for both of us, which is why 'marriage leave' would come in handy."
But senior employment relations adviser Gabrielle O'Brien from workplace specialist firm Employsure said approving paid time off for wedding-related commitments was up to the discretion of individual employers.
"Under the Fair Work Act, there is no obligation to pay employees when they are off work to attend such events," she said.
"Most employers would ask their employees to take these days as annual leave. Some might allow staff to take unpaid time off, but that would be up to the employer.
"For life events such as weddings, religious ceremonies, school sports days, graduation ceremonies and children's birthday parties it is up to the discretion of the employer and a sign of goodwill towards the employee whether to grant time off with pay."
But Ms O'Brien said flexible work arrangements benefited staff and bosses alike.
"Your business is more likely to hold on to employees, see better productivity and job satisfaction, and reduce absenteeism," she said.
"Your employees can potentially find a better balance between work and their personal lives for key events.
"If you're using annual leave days for things like your bridal shower or bachelorette party, or have other travel plans between now and your wedding day, talk to your boss about taking a combination of paid days off and time without pay."
Ms O'Brien said employees needed to work with their employers to find a solution.
"While most bosses and managers will be happy to give you your requested days off for such a special occasion, do your best to give them as much advance notice as you can, providing them an opportunity to arrange staffing or schedules if they need to," she said.
Shine Lawyers employment expert Christie Toy echoed that sentiment.
"In Australia there's no type of marriage leave or anything along those lines - if people are at that point in their life, they will need to take annual leave or if they don't have any annual leave, they might make an agreement with their boss to take leave without pay for a period," she said.
"It is usually up to the discretion of the employer...but it is always encouraging to see employers provide employees with additional benefits over and above the four weeks of annual leave per year we have in Australia.
"We do see some employers come up with creative policies from time to time which creates staff morale, increases productivity and decreases absenteeism."
However, Ms Toy warned that specific "marriage leave" could be considered discriminatory by some workers.
"If an employer is looking to introduce paid marriage leave they should be mindful that it could lead to discrimination in the workplace as not everyone is in a position where they are in a relationship, although the potential for discrimination isn't as high now since the Marriage Act has ben amended [to allow same sex marriage]," she said.
"But by all means employers could look at increasing annual leave across the board to five or six weeks to provide an extra incentive."