Unpaid Pandemic Leave is available to employees who are unable to work due to COVID-19, with conditions around such preventing them from attending work. Conditions such as:
- The requirement to self-isolate or quarantine as per government or medical practitioner advice;
- Caring for another who has to isolate or quarantine as per government or medical practitioner advice; or
- Government or medical instruction/response to the pandemic restricting the operation of non-essential business, such as a ‘Lock Down’.
Permanent full-time, part-time and casual employees are entitled to 2 weeks of unpaid pandemic leave and can take it immediately, as required, and as agreed upon between employer and employee. An employee does NOT have to use all sick or annual leave entitlements prior to the use of unpaid pandemic leave.
This leave entitlement does not accrue.
Notice of leave should be given as soon as circumstance allows, inclusive of the expected leave duration and anticipated return date. In response to urgent circumstance, such as having already contracted COVID-19, notice may be given after the leave has started.
Evidence may be required for the approval of unpaid pandemic leave, and this will differ amongst workplaces.
An employee can give such evidence through the provision of a:
- Medical certificate;
- Letter from a registered practitioner; or
- Letter or message of government instruction.
If an employee is struggling financially due to pandemic related circumstance, then they may be eligible for the COVID-19 Disaster Payment. An employee can receive this payment after using all available sick leave, however prior to receiving unpaid pandemic leave and with annual leave still available. This payment is based upon the hours of work or wage that an employee has lost on an ongoing basis as a result of having to quarantine or isolate.
Industry and Award eligibility for Unpaid Pandemic Leave is constantly changing, with access to such being extended regularly in consideration of COVID-19 outbreaks. To find out more information specific to your industry and award go to https://coronavirus.fairwork.gov.au/