Leave and the JobKeeper scheme

Published 1 May 2020 | Updated 24 May 2021

Icon of a book with \The JobKeeper scheme finished from 29 March 2021. The information on this page stopped applying from this date. Find out more at Former JobKeeper scheme.

The information on this page is for qualifying employers and their employees.

Qualifying employers are employers that qualify for the JobKeeper scheme and receive payments for their eligible employees.

Legacy employers no longer receive JobKeeper payments but may be able to use some of the JobKeeper provisions. Learn what applies for leave at Pay, leave and ending employment for legacy employers.

Find information about leave entitlements and options for qualifying employers and their eligible employees under the JobKeeper scheme.

You can also learn more about the repealed JobKeeper provisions to take annual leave including at half pay. These provisions stop applying from 28 September 2020.

Paid and unpaid leave options

The information in this section is for qualifying employers and their eligible employees.

Legacy employers and their employees can check what applies at Pay, leave and ending employment for legacy employers.

Paid leave

Employers and employees can agree for employees to take paid leave while they’re receiving JobKeeper payments. Qualifying employers need to pay their employees for any work they continue to perform and for authorised paid leave that they take.

Payment for leave

While an employee of a qualifying employer is on paid leave (such as annual leave or long service leave), they need to be paid:

  • an amount equal to the applicable JobKeeper payment, or
  • their usual pay for work performed (including leave payments), if it’s more than the applicable JobKeeper amount.

See Satisfying the minimum payment guarantee on the Pay and the JobKeeper scheme page for more information.

From 28 September 2020, there are two JobKeeper payment rates – a tier 1 (higher) rate and a tier 2 (lower) rate. For more information visit Payment rates external-icon.png on the ATO website.

Accruing leave

Employees who have been stood down with a JobKeeper enabling stand down direction still accrue their usual leave entitlements for the period the direction applies (as if the direction hadn't been given to them).

Example: Accruing leave during JobKeeper stand down

Elisha is a full-time designer in Nathan’s engineering business. Nathan is a qualifying employer and his business is entitled to JobKeeper payments for Elisha.

There’s been a significant reduction in demand for design work due to coronavirus. Nathan gives Elisha a JobKeeper enabling stand down direction not to attend work for the next few weeks.

During this period, Elisha’s annual leave entitlements continue to accumulate based on her full-time hours, as if the JobKeeper enabling stand down direction hadn’t been given.

Annual leave

From 28 September 2020, all employers and their eligible employees need to follow the usual rules for taking and requesting annual leave. This includes those set by an award or agreement. For information about what applied before 28 September, see Agreements to take annual leave before 28 September 2020.

Learn more about the usual rules for taking annual leave on our Annual leave page.

Sick and carer’s leave and compassionate leave

On 27 November 2020, the Full Federal Court of Australia confirmed that an employee who has been stood down under the Fair Work Act can’t take paid sick and carer’s leave or compassionate leave. On 21 May 2021, the High Court of Australia refused an application for special leave to appeal this decision. The information on this page remains accurate. You can read the Full Federal Court’s decision at CEPU & Anor v Qantas Airways Ltd [2020] FCAFC 205 external-icon.png.

The JobKeeper scheme doesn’t affect an employee’s entitlement to accrue paid sick or carer’s leave under the National Employment Standards and the relevant award. Employees continue to accrue paid sick and carer’s leave as usual.

However, an employee who has been given a JobKeeper enabling stand down direction to work less or no hours isn’t entitled to use paid sick and carer’s leave or compassionate leave for the days or hours that they’ve been directed not to work.

Example: Taking sick leave during rostered work hours while on JobKeeper

Johnny works in a factory. His employer qualifies for the JobKeeper scheme and gets JobKeeper payments for Johnny. Johnny is still working his normal hours.

Johnny’s rostered to work on Saturday for 4 hours but gets sick and can’t work. He tells his manager and gets a medical certificate from his doctor.

Johnny is paid sick leave for the 4 hours he doesn’t work. His employer deducts 4 hours of sick leave from his sick leave balance.

To find out more, go to Sick and carer’s leave.

Long service leave

The JobKeeper scheme doesn’t impact or change an employee’s long service leave entitlements.

Our Long service leave page has more information about long service leave entitlements.

Unpaid leave

An eligible employee on authorised unpaid leave needs to be paid at least the amount of the applicable JobKeeper payment (per fortnight and less tax) for the period they’re on unpaid leave. This applies as long as the employee meets the eligibility conditions for the JobKeeper scheme and their employer is a qualifying employer and receives JobKeeper payments for the employee.

Examples of authorised unpaid leave include:

  • unpaid sick or carer’s leave
  • unpaid pandemic leave
  • unpaid parental leave (unless the employee is receiving the Australian Government’s Parental Leave Pay or Dad and Partner Pay)
  • unpaid family and domestic violence leave.

To find out more about different types of unpaid leave, visit our Unpaid leave and other paid leave page.

Parental leave

A qualifying employer may be eligible to receive JobKeeper payments for an employee on unpaid parental leave, provided they and the employee meet other criteria. However, an employee receiving the Australian Government’s Parental Leave Pay or Dad and Partner Pay isn’t eligible for the JobKeeper scheme for any JobKeeper fortnight in which they get these payments.

Find out more about eligibility for Parental Leave Pay and Dad and Partner pay on the Services Australia website:

To learn more about workplace entitlements for this type of leave, visit our Maternity and parental leave section.

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Agreements to take annual leave before 28 September 2020

Under the original JobKeeper provisions, qualifying employers could make agreements with eligible employees to take annual leave. This included taking annual leave at half pay.

These provisions have been repealed and stop applying from 28 September 2020. From this date, any agreement that was made under these provisions stops applying.

From 28 September 2020, all qualifying employers and their employees need to follow the usual rules for taking and requesting annual leave. This includes the rules set by an award or agreement.

Learn more about the usual rules for taking annual leave on our Annual leave page.

The repealed JobKeeper provisions previously allowed a qualifying employer to:

  • request that an employee take paid annual leave (as long as they keep a balance of at least 2 weeks)
  • agree in writing with an employee for them to take annual leave at half pay for twice the length of time.

Agreements

To have previously made an agreement about taking annual leave under these JobKeeper provisions, an employer needed to:

  • qualify for and enrol in the JobKeeper scheme
  • be entitled to JobKeeper payments for the employee to whom the agreement applies
  • be a national system employer in the Fair Work system.

Agreements under the JobKeeper provisions were only allowed for annual leave and not other types of leave.

Agreements made under JobKeeper provisions stopped applying from 28 September 2020. After this date, an employee’s pay and conditions went back to what they were before the agreements were made.

Requests for an employee to take annual leave

Agreements under the JobKeeper provisions were only allowed for annual leave and not other types of leave.

Agreements made under JobKeeper provisions stopped applying from 28 September 2020. After this date, an employee’s pay and conditions went back to what they were before the agreements were made. 

If a qualifying employer asked an employee to take annual leave under the JobKeeper provisions, the employee had to consider the request. The employee couldn’t unreasonably refuse it.

Employees that took annual leave under the JobKeeper provisions continued to accrue their usual leave entitlements. The period of annual leave counted as service.

Taking annual leave at half pay

While an employee was on annual leave at half pay they continued to accrue leave (such as annual and sick and carer’s leave), as if they were taking annual leave at full pay.

If an employee took leave, their employer had to pay them at least the amount of the JobKeeper payment for each week of annual leave at half pay. They weren’t allowed to be paid half the JobKeeper amount.

If an employee’s employment ended after they had taken annual leave at half pay, redundancy pay and payment in lieu of notice of termination were calculated as if they took the annual leave at full pay.

A qualifying employer can’t unreasonably refuse an employee’s request to take annual leave.

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More information

Read more in our Library about:

Legacy employers

Legacy employers and their employees can check leave entitlements at Pay, leave and ending employment for Legacy employers.

More information:

Pay and wages

Information, tools and resources:

Leave

Information, tools and resources:

Enforcement and dealing with disputes

We help employers and employees understand and follow Australian workplace laws. We do this by:

  • providing information and education
  • providing tools, templates and guides
  • helping you resolve workplace issues.

Our Resolving workplace issues during coronavirus page has information and resources to help you resolve workplace disputes. It also has information about our enforcement role under the JobKeeper scheme and who can help with:

  • questions about eligibility for the JobKeeper scheme
  • disputes about directions or requests under the JobKeeper scheme
  • disputes related to requirements for legacy employers, including certificates.

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