Paid pandemic leave in some awards

Published 29 July 2020 | Updated 11 August 2020

Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment

The Australian Government has introduced a Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment, available from 5 August 2020. As a disaster payment, it only applies in Victoria, which is in a state of disaster. The payment is available to eligible Victorian workers who don’t have paid sick leave. For more information about the payment and how to claim it, visit Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment external-icon.png on Services Australia's website.

Victorian Coronavirus Test Isolation & Worker Support Payments

Some Victorian workers who aren’t eligible for the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment may be eligible for a Victorian coronavirus worker payment from the Victorian Government. Learn more at Victoria – Coronavirus (COVID-19) test isolation and worker support payments external-icon.png.

On 29 July 2020, the Fair Work Commission (the Commission) issued determinations external-icon.png varying the Aged Care Award, the Nurses Award and the Health Services Award. The determinations insert a temporary new Schedule Y, which applies from the first pay period on or after 29 July 2020 until 29 October 2020.

Schedule Y provides access to paid pandemic leave for eligible residential aged care employees covered by the Aged Care Award, Nurses Award and Health Services Award.

Find out about:

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 October 2020.

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 external-icon.png.

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