Unpaid leave

Published 22 June 2020 | Updated 14 September 2020

In many circumstances, employees won’t have access to paid leave during coronavirus. For example, if they’re a permanent employee who has already used all their accrued leave entitlements, or if they’re casual and don’t get paid leave. In these situations, employers and employees can agree for an employee to take unpaid leave.

Unpaid pandemic leave

Some employees have access to 2 weeks unpaid pandemic leave, if they are employed under an affected award.

Go to Unpaid pandemic leave and annual leave changes to awards to find out which awards have unpaid pandemic leave, and the rules about when and how it can be taken.

Family and domestic violence leave

All employees, including part-time and casual employees, are entitled to 5 days unpaid family and domestic violence leave each year. For more information visit Family & domestic violence leave.

Unpaid carer’s leave

All employees, including casual employees, are entitled to unpaid carer’s leave to care for a member of their immediate family or household. For more information visit Unpaid carer's leave.

Agreeing to other unpaid leave

Awards, enterprise agreements, employment contracts and workplace policies may also have other types of unpaid leave. An employer can give extra unpaid leave to their employees if they choose to, even if it isn’t in an award, enterprise agreement, employment contract or workplace policy. This should be negotiated between the employer and employee. An employee usually doesn’t accumulate other types of leave when they’re on other unpaid leave.

Example: agreed unpaid leave

Justin is a part-time delivery driver under the Road Transport Award. He normally works 4 days a week.

Due to the impacts of coronavirus, Justin wants to spend more time at home with his family.

Justin emails his employer to ask if he can only work 3 days a week and will take unpaid leave 1 day a week. Justin’s employer emails him back to approve the unpaid leave for 4 weeks. After 4 weeks they’ll review the arrangement.

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