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Pandemic Leave

As we head into the Easter long weekend we have a few brief updates for you. This week has seen the Government pass the JobKeeper Payment legislation through Parliament, provide additional flexibility for employers as a result of COVID-19 and introduce ‘Pandemic Leave’ for affected employees. This has resulted in amendments to the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) which all Employers need to be aware of. In addition, there is confirmation for Employers about Public Holiday pay for employees who have been stood down.

PUBLIC HOLIDAY PAY FOR STOOD DOWN EMPLOYEES

The Fair Work Ombudsman has clarified that employees who have been ‘stood down’ without pay are still entitled to be paid for public holidays which fall during the stand down period, if they would have worked that day ordinarily.

JOBKEEPER PAYMENT SCHEME

Under the JobKeeper Payment, businesses and not-for-profits significantly impacted by the Coronavirus outbreak will be able to access a wage subsidy from the Government to continue paying their employees.


A decision around eligibility for JobKeeper Payment is still to be made by Treasury, and the Rules are expected to be announced in the coming days. In the meantime there is information available on this fact sheet JobKeeper Payment Treasury Fact Sheet

UNPAID PANDEMIC LEAVE

On 8 April 2020, the Fair Work Commission made determinations varying 99 Awards.

Employees who are employed under one of the affected Awards can now 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 key aspects of this leave are:

  • 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 30 June 2020 but can finish after that date, and

  • 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 counts as service for entitlements under Awards and the National Employment Standards.

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