Carers provide a vital service to the broader community, reducing the need for formal (paid) care. However, time spent caring significantly reduces the time available for carers to participate in employment and education, and too often they are faced with impossible choices regarding maintaining their caring commitments or participating in work. QAMH acknowledge that the Productivity Commission has been asked to examine the economic and social costs and benefits of providing an extended unpaid leave entitlement to informal carers of older Australians in the National Employment Standards. However, we strongly endorse our previous position that the proposed changes to the National Employment Standards be broadened to include all carer types.
The key features of the provisional model for extended unpaid carer leave outlined by the Productivity Commission  include:
- unpaid leave for 3–12 months (with the employee to specify the duration at the outset) with access to another period of leave 12 months after the last use
- a notice period of 4 weeks
- available to employees with at least 12 months of continuous service
- applied to businesses of all sizes and to regular casual workers
- evidence requirements in line with other National Employment Standards.
Broadly, QAMH supports the model, particularly the last 3 elements, and recognises the need to balance carer needs with viability for employers. However, we request that the Commission consider the following modifications to increase the suitability of the entitlement for the needs of mental health carers:
- Ensure that extended unpaid leave is available to carers on a recurrent basis and reduce the waiting period between each extended leave request to better accommodate episodic needs for mental health carers.
- Add an option to waive the 4 week notice period to accommodate emergencies and/or crisis situations for carers.
 Productivity Commission. (2023). A case for an extended unpaid carer leave entitlement? Position Paper. https://www.pc.gov.au/inquiries/current/carer-leave/position/carer-leave-position.pdf