Unpaid pandemic leave in awards

Published 8 April 2020 | Updated 5 August 2022

Learn more about unpaid pandemic leave in some awards and how employees can access it.

Unpaid pandemic leave stopped applying in most awards from 30 June 2022.

Unpaid pandemic leave

Employees 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 are prevented from working:

  • because they're 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).

Check if your award includes unpaid pandemic leave at Awards where unpaid pandemic leave applies.

Taking the leave

The leave is available in full immediately to:

  • full-time
  • part-time
  • casual employees.

Employees don’t have to:

  • accrue the leave or
  • use all their paid leave before accessing unpaid pandemic leave.

The leave needs to start before – but can finish – after 31 December 2022.

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

Unpaid pandemic leave doesn’t affect other paid or unpaid leave entitlements. It also 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 are going to take unpaid pandemic leave
  • the reason for taking the leave.

This has to be done as soon as possible, which can be after the leave started.

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.

Example: Taking unpaid pandemic leave

Mitch is a casual home care employee covered by the Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Award. Mitch needs to provide direct care to clients so can't work from home.

Mitch has received advice from his doctor that he needs to self-isolate because a family member has tested positive to COVID-19. He then calls his employer to let them know his situation.

Mitch's employer discusses the different kinds of leave options Mitch has while he's away from work. After talking about it, Mitch decides he'll take unpaid pandemic leave.

At his employer’s request, Mitch emails them a letter from his doctor confirming the medical advice to self-isolate.

Back to top

Awards where unpaid pandemic leave applies

Unpaid pandemic leave applies in some awards from the first full pay period starting on or after 15 July 2022 until the end of 2022. It had previously stopped applying on 30 June 2022.

Award End date
Aged Care Award 31 December 2022
Ambulance and Patient Transport Industry Award 31 December 2022
Aboriginal Controlled Health Services Award 31 December 2022
Health Professionals and Support Services Award 31 December 2022
Supported Employment Services Award 31 December 2022
Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award 31 December 2022

Back to top

History of unpaid pandemic leave

2020-21

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

The determinations inserted a temporary Schedule X into these 99 awards, which provided 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 in most awards many times.

2022

On 17 June 2022, the Commission issued a decision to remove expired unpaid pandemic leave terms and other expired COVID-19 provisions from many awards.

The Commission made a decision that reinserted unpaid pandemic leave into these 6 awards on 15 July 2022:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Services Award
  • Aged Care Award
  • Ambulance and Patient Transport Award
  • Health Professionals and Support Services Award
  • Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Award
  • Supported Employment Services Award.

Back to top

Awards previously with unpaid pandemic leave provisions

The table below outlines the awards that included unpaid pandemic leave provisions and their end date.

For most awards, unpaid pandemic leave ended on 30 June 2022.

30 June 2022

Award End date
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
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
Broadcasting 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
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
Live Performance 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
Real Estate Industry 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
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

Prior to 30 June 2022

Award End date
Air Pilots Award 29 March 2021
Aircraft Cabin Crew Award 30 June 2020
Book Industry Award 30 June 2020
Clerks - Private Sector Award 30 June 2020
Commercial Sales Award 29 March 2021
Concrete Products Award 30 June 2020
Educational Services (Schools) General Staff Award 30 June 2020
Educational Services (Post-Secondary Education) Award 29 March 2021
Educational Services (Teachers) Award 30 June 2020
Higher Education Industry – Academic Staff – Award 30 June 2020
Higher Education Industry – General Staff – Award 29 March 2021
Journalists Published Media Award 29 March 2021
Mannequins and Models Award 30 June 2020
Marine Tourism and Charter Vessels Award 30 June 2020
Market and Social Research Award 30 June 2020
Miscellaneous Award 29 March 2021
Passenger Vehicle Transportation Award 30 June 2020
Rail Industry Award 29 March 2021
Road Transport and Distribution Award 30 June 2020
Road Transport (Long Distance Operations) Award 30 June 2020
Sporting Organisations Award 30 June 2020
Surveying Award 29 March 2021
Telecommunications Services Award 30 June 2020
Transport (Cash in Transit) Award 30 June 2020
Travelling Shows Award 30 June 2020
Vehicle Repair, Service and Retail Award 29 March 2021

Back to top