Unpaid pandemic leave in awards

Published 8 April 2020 | Updated 14 January 2022

Extension of unpaid pandemic leave in many awards

The Fair Work Commission has extended the entitlement to unpaid pandemic leave under Schedule X in many awards from 31 December 2021 until 30 June 2022.

The extension applies to 74 awards, including the Mobile Crane Award. To find out which awards are affected, go to Awards that still have unpaid pandemic leave and their end dates.

On 8 April 2020, the Fair Work Commission (the Commission) made determinations external-icon.png varying 99 awards, adding unpaid pandemic leave and annual leave flexibility.

The determinations inserted a temporary new Schedule X into these 99 awards, which provide 2 weeks of unpaid pandemic leave and the ability to take twice as much annual leave at half their normal pay if their employer agreed.

The Commission has extended the entitlement to unpaid pandemic leave under Schedule X, with the provisions now ending in most awards from 30 June 2022. The entitlement to take annual leave at half pay hasn’t been extended and will end on 31 December 2021.

Check the list below to see if your award is affected.

Unpaid pandemic leave

Employees who are employed under one of the affected awards can access up to 2 weeks’ unpaid pandemic leave (or more by agreement with their employer) if they're prevented from working:

  • as a result of being required to self-isolate by government or medical authorities, or acting on the advice of a medical practitioner, or
  • by measures taken by government or medical authorities in response to the pandemic (for example, an enforceable government direction restricting non-essential businesses).

The leave is available in full immediately to full-time, part-time and casual employees – they don’t have to accrue it.

Employees don’t have to use all their paid leave before accessing unpaid pandemic leave.

The leave needs to start before, but can finish after, the date when the unpaid pandemic leave provisions in the relevant award stop applying. Check your award in the table below to see when Schedule X stops operating.

All eligible employees can take the 2 weeks’ leave. It is not pro-rated for employees who don't work full-time.

Unpaid pandemic leave doesn’t affect other paid or unpaid leave entitlements and counts as service for entitlements under awards and the National Employment Standards.

Notice and evidence

An employee has to let their employer know that they’re going to take unpaid pandemic leave and the reason for taking the leave. This has to be done as soon as possible and can be after the leave has started. They should also say how long they'll be off or expect to be off work.

An employer can ask an employee to give evidence that shows why they took the leave.

An employer can't dismiss an employee or take any other adverse action against an employee because the employee is entitled to unpaid pandemic leave. Find out more about protections at work.

Example: Taking unpaid pandemic leave

Gerson is a casual shop assistant employed under the Retail Award. He’s received advice from a doctor that he needs to self-isolate because he was in close contact with a confirmed case.

He calls his employer to let them know his situation.

Gerson's employer discusses the different kinds of leave options he has while he's away from work. After talking about it, Gerson decides he'll take unpaid pandemic leave. On his employer’s request, Gerson emails his employer his medical certificate. 

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Annual leave at half pay

Please note that the entitlement to annual leave at half pay under Schedule X stopped applying from 31 December 2021.

Under Schedule X, employees could take their annual leave at half pay, and double their time off work, if their employer agreed. This would mean an employee could get paid 1 week of annual leave (including annual leave loading if applicable) for every 2 weeks of annual leave they took.

The agreement had to be in writing and the employer needed to keep it as a record.

The leave needed to start before 31 December 2021, but could finish after that date.

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

Example: Annual leave at half pay

Leah works at a gym and is employed under the Fitness Industry Award. Because of an enforceable government direction in response to an outbreak of coronavirus, the gym Leah works at must close.  

After talking with her employer about the situation, Leah decides to take some of her annual leave while the gym is closed. She currently has 6 weeks of annual leave.

Instead of taking 6 weeks at normal pay, Leah asks her employer if she can take 12 weeks’ annual leave at half pay.

Leah's employer is happy with this and records the agreement in writing.

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Awards with unpaid pandemic leave – new end dates

The table below outline the awards that still have Schedule X as well as its new end date in each award. If your award isn’t listed here, go to List of awards where unpaid pandemic leave no longer applies.

Schedule X in the Mobile Crane Award has been reinstated and starts again from 1 January 2022 until 30 June 2022.

For all awards, annual leave at half pay provisions end on 31 December 2021.

30 June 2022

Award Schedule X end date
Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services Award 30 June 2022
Aged Care Award 30 June 2022
Airline Operations - Ground Staff Award 30 June 2022
Airport Award 30 June 2022
Alpine Resorts Award 30 June 2022
Aluminium Industry Award 30 June 2022
Ambulance and Patient Transport Industry Award 30 June 2022
Amusement, Events and Recreation Award 30 June 2022
Animal Care and Veterinary Services Award 30 June 2022
Aquaculture Industry Award 30 June 2022
Architects Award 30 June 2022
Asphalt Industry Award 30 June 2022
Banking, Finance and Insurance Award 30 June 2022
Building and Construction Award 30 June 2022
Business Equipment Award 30 June 2022
Car Parking Award 30 June 2022
Cement, Lime and Quarrying Award 30 June 2022
Cemetery Industry Award 30 June 2022
Children's Services Award 30 June 2022
Cleaning Services Award 30 June 2022
Contract Call Centres Award 30 June 2022
Corrections and Detention (Private Sector) Award 30 June 2022
Cotton Ginning Award 30 June 2022
Dry Cleaning and Laundry Industry Award 30 June 2022
Fast Food Industry Award 30 June 2022
Fitness Industry Award 30 June 2022
Food, Beverage and Tobacco Manufacturing Award 30 June 2022
Funeral Industry Award 30 June 2022
Gardening and Landscaping Services Award 30 June 2022
Graphic Arts Award 30 June 2022
Hair and Beauty Industry Award 30 June 2022
Health Professionals and Support Services Award 30 June 2022
Horse and Greyhound Training Award 30 June 2022
Horticulture Award 30 June 2022
Hospitality Industry (General) Award 30 June 2022
Joinery Award 30 June 2022
Labour Market Assistance Award 30 June 2022
Legal Services Award 30 June 2022
Local Government Industry Award 30 June 2022
Manufacturing and Associated Industries and Occupations Award 30 June 2022
Meat Industry Award 30 June 2022
Medical Practitioners Award 30 June 2022
Mobile Crane Award 30 June 2022
Nursery Award 30 June 2022
Nurses Award 30 June 2022
Pastoral Award 30 June 2022
Pest Control Industry Award 30 June 2022
Pharmaceutical Industry Award 30 June 2022
Pharmacy Industry Award 30 June 2022
Plumbing Award 30 June 2022
Poultry Processing Award 30 June 2022
Premixed Concrete Award 30 June 2022
Professional Award 30 June 2022
Professional Diving Industry (Recreational) Award 30 June 2022
Racing Clubs Events Award 30 June 2022
Racing Industry Ground Maintenance Award 30 June 2022
Registered and Licensed Clubs Award 30 June 2022
Restaurant Industry Award 30 June 2022
General Retail Industry Award 30 June 2022
Salt Industry Award 30 June 2022
Seafood Processing Award 30 June 2022
Security Services Industry Award 30 June 2022
Silviculture Award 30 June 2022
Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award 30 June 2022
State Government Agencies Award 30 June 2022
Storage Services and Wholesale Award 30 June 2022
Sugar Industry Award 30 June 2022
Textile, Clothing, Footwear and Associated Industries Award 30 June 2022
Timber Industry Award 30 June 2022
Waste Management Award 30 June 2022
Water Industry Award 30 June 2022
Wine Industry Award 30 June 2022
Wool Storage, Sampling and Testing Award 30 June 2022

To find out which awards used to have Schedule X but don’t any more, and when it stopped applying in those awards, see List of awards where unpaid pandemic leave no longer applies.

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Western Australia state system

As some businesses in WA are not covered by the national system, visit WA Labour Relations for detailed information for state system employers and employees on employment obligations and entitlements during coronavirus external-icon.png.

Our Fair Work system page has information about who isn’t covered by the national system.

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