Annual leave

Published 22 June 2020 | Updated 6 November 2020

All employees (other than casuals) are entitled to paid annual leave. Temporary changes have been made to some annual leave entitlements because of the impact of coronavirus.

Most changes affect employers and their employees covered by:

  • an affected award
  • a varied enterprise agreement, or
  • the JobKeeper scheme.

Temporary changes to annual leave entitlements

Award variations

A number of awards have been varied by the Fair Work Commission (the Commission) to increase award flexibility and help manage the impact of coronavirus.

For a list of all awards which have been temporarily varied due to coronavirus see Temporary changes to workplace laws during coronavirus.

Annual leave at half pay in some awards

The Commission has varied many awards to allow employees to take annual leave at half pay to manage the impact of coronavirus. A temporary new schedule inserted into these awards lets employees take twice as much annual leave at half their normal pay if their employer agrees.

This means an employee gets 1 week of annual leave pay (including annual leave loading if it applies) for every 2 weeks of annual leave they take.

The employer and employee need to agree for an employee to take leave at half pay. The agreement needs to be in writing and the employer needs to keep it as a record.

For most awards that have been varied, the leave needs to start before 30 September 2020, but can finish after that date.

An employee on leave at half pay accumulates annual leave and sick and carer’s leave as if they were on leave at full pay.

Check if your award has been varied at our list of affected awards.

Learn more about directions to take annual leave on our Directions to take annual leave page.

Enterprise agreement variations

Some parties to enterprise agreements may be considering varying their agreements. This is to give extra flexibility in the workplace and help address the impact of coronavirus, and may impact annual leave under some agreements. Making and varying enterprise agreements is managed by the Fair Work Commission.

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Annual leave entitlements that haven’t changed

Accumulating annual leave

Employees keep accumulating annual leave as usual, if they:

  • have been stood down
  • have been given a JobKeeper enabling stand down direction
  • have requested or been directed to take annual leave
  • are on a type of unpaid leave that counts towards annual leave accrual, such as unpaid pandemic leave, or
  • are on annual leave at half pay.

Annual leave loading

Some awards or agreements require that annual leave loading is also paid for annual leave. Award variations and the JobKeeper scheme haven’t changed annual leave loading entitlements. If an employee normally receives annual leave loading, this still needs to be paid.

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