Paid pandemic leave in some awards
Published 29 July 2020 | Updated 30 October 2020
Paid pandemic leave extended for residential aged care employees
The Fair Work Commission has extended access to paid pandemic leave under Schedule Y until 29 March 2021.
The entitlement was due to stop applying on 29 October 2020 but has now been extended until 29 March 2021.
We’ve updated the information on this page as a result.
Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment
The Australian Government has introduced a Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment for some workers during coronavirus. It is available to eligible workers in all six Australian states. The payment is available to workers who:
- don’t have paid sick leave and can’t earn an income because they have to self-isolate or quarantine due to a positive coronavirus case, or
- are caring for someone with coronavirus.
For more information about the payment, eligibility requirements and how to claim it, visit Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment on Services Australia's website.
Victorian Coronavirus Test Isolation Payment
Some Victorian workers may also be eligible for a Victorian Coronavirus Test Isolation Payment from the Victorian Government. Learn more at Victoria – Coronavirus (COVID-19) Test Isolation Payment .
Paid pandemic leave is available to eligible residential aged care employees covered by the Aged Care Award, Nurses Award and Health Services Award.
On 29 October 2020, the Fair Work Commission (the Commission) extended the operation of these provisions until 29 March 2021.
These provisions were originally included on 29 July 2020 in the Aged Care Award, the Nurses Award and the Health Services Award. The Commission issued determinations varying these awards and inserted a temporary new Schedule Y, which provides for the entitlement of paid pandemic leave.
On this page:
The Commission can extend Schedule Y if an interested party applies. We'll update this page if that happens.
Who paid pandemic leave applies to
Schedule Y applies to:
- employers and employees covered by the Aged Care Award
- employers and employees covered by the Nurses Award who work in the aged care industry
- employers and employees covered by the Health Services Award who work in the aged care industry.
Paid pandemic leave applies to full-time, part-time and eligible casual employees. To be an eligible casual employee, a casual needs to have been employed on a regular and systematic basis.
Use Find my award if you’re not sure which award applies to you.
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When paid pandemic leave applies
Under Schedule Y, employees are entitled to up to 2 weeks of paid pandemic leave if they can’t work (including from home) because:
- their employer, or government or medical authorities, require them to self-isolate or quarantine
- they have to self-isolate or quarantine while waiting for a coronavirus test result
- they are showing symptoms of coronavirus and have been advised by a medical practitioner to self-isolate or quarantine
- they have come into contact with a person suspected of having contracted coronavirus, or
- of government or medical authority measures taken in response to coronavirus (including, for example, closing a facility).
Employees who want to take paid pandemic leave need to have already been tested for coronavirus for each occasion of leave, or agree to get tested as soon as possible. If they don’t, they aren’t entitled to take the leave.
The leave is available in full immediately to full-time, part-time and eligible casual employees – they don’t have to accrue it. Each time an employee meets the criteria, they can take up to 2 weeks’ paid pandemic leave.
Employees can’t take paid pandemic leave if their situation means they’re entitled to take paid sick or carer’s leave instead. For example, if they can't work because of a personal illness or injury, or because they need to provide care or support for a member of their immediate family or household who is sick or injured or to help during a family emergency.
Employees also can’t take paid pandemic leave if they’re entitled to workers compensation benefits because of contracting coronavirus.
The leave needs to start before, but can finish after, 29 March 2021. All leave taken under Schedule Y needs to start before 29 March 2021.
An employer can't dismiss an employee or take any other adverse action against them because the employee is entitled to, or takes, paid pandemic leave. Find out more about protections at work.
Pay rate for paid pandemic leave
Full-time employees who take paid pandemic leave need to be paid their base pay rate for their ordinary hours of work, the same as taking normal sick leave.
Part-time employees who take paid pandemic leave need to be paid the higher of either:
- their agreed ordinary hours of work
- an average of their weekly ordinary hours of work for the previous 6 weeks.
Casual employees who take paid pandemic leave need to be paid an amount based on an average of their weekly pay over the previous 6 weeks. If they’ve been employed for less than 6 weeks, the pay needs to be based on an average of their weekly pay for the time they’ve been employed.
Notice and evidence
An employee has to let their employer know that they’re going to take paid 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.
An employer can ask an employee for evidence that shows why they took the leave. That evidence has to be enough to satisfy a reasonable person that the employee was entitled to take paid pandemic leave. If they’re taking the leave on the advice of a medical practitioner, the employer can require that the evidence is a medical certificate.
Paid pandemic leave and service
Paid pandemic leave doesn’t affect other paid or unpaid leave entitlements and counts as service for entitlements under awards and the National Employment Standards.
Example: Taking paid pandemic leave
Freya works as a part-time personal care worker in an aged care facility in Victoria. She is employed under the Aged Care Award and works 26 hours a week.
There has been a confirmed case of coronavirus at Freya’s workplace. The case is a person that Freya provided personal care services to within the last 14 days.
Freya is required to self-isolate due to close contact with a case of coronavirus. As a personal care worker, there isn’t any work she can do from home. She isn’t sick so isn’t entitled to take paid sick leave. She tells her employer that she will be taking paid pandemic leave for the time she has to self-isolate. Her employer agrees and asks her to get tested for coronavirus as soon as possible.
For the time she takes paid pandemic leave, Freya is paid for her ordinary hours of 26 hours a week by her employer. She also continues to accumulate her annual and sick leave while she’s on paid pandemic leave.
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Employees covered by an agreement
Paid pandemic leave in the Aged Care Award, Nurses Award and Health Services Award doesn’t apply to employees covered by an enterprise agreement.
Find out if your workplace is covered by an agreement on the Fair Work Commission website – Find an agreement .
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- Read the Fair Work Commission’s determinations varying the awards:
- Find out about unpaid pandemic leave.
- Want to check other entitlements and obligations under the awards? Go to:
- Not sure what award you’re covered by? Use Find my award.
- Need to calculate pay rates, overtime and penalty rates? Use our Pay Calculator.
- Want to stay updated on other award changes? Sign up for email updates.
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