| COVID-19

Unpaid Pandemic Leave Available Again

Employees covered by some awards can access 2 weeks’ unpaid pandemic leave from 15 July 2022 until 31 December 2022. This follows a recent Fair Work Commission decision to add the entitlement back into these awards.

Unpaid Pandemic Leave

Eligible employees can access up to 2 weeks’ unpaid pandemic leave (or more by agreement with their employer) if they can’t work because:

  • They’re required to self-isolate by government or medical authorities, or on the advice of a medical practitioner, or
  • Of measures taken by government or medical authorities in response to the pandemic (for example, an enforceable government direction restricting non-essential businesses).

The leave is available in full immediately to full-time, part-time and casual employees – employees don’t have to accrue it.

Affected Awards

The awards with unpaid pandemic leave entitlements available are the:

  • 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.

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.

Noice 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.

For more information please head to fairwork.gov.au