Quarantine & self-isolation: pay & leave options

One of the most recent common questions received is “If an employee has to self-quarantine for 2 weeks, can that be taken as personal leave? “

An employee is only able to use their personal leave if they are unable to attend work due to an illness or injury and may be required to provide evidence that they were sick or injured.

What other options are available?

Unpaid pandemic leave

Some employees have access to unpaid pandemic leave. Employees who are employed under one of the affected awards can access up to 2 weeks of unpaid pandemic leave (or more by agreement with their employer) if they can’t work:

  • because they need to self-isolate in line with government or medical authorities, or on the advice of a medical practitioner, or
  • because of measures taken by government or medical authorities in response to the pandemic (for example, an enforceable government direction closing non-essential businesses).

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

Employees don’t have to use all their paid leave before accessing unpaid pandemic leave.

An employee can still take unpaid pandemic leave under their award at the same time as receiving payments under the JobKeeper scheme.

CLICK HERE for more information on unpaid pandemic leave.

Paid pandemic leave

Paid pandemic leave is available 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.

The leave entitles eligible employees to up to 2 week’s paid leave on each occasion they need to take it. Certain conditions and criteria apply to access the leave.

CLICK HERE for more information on paid pandemic leave.

Can employees work during quarantine and self-isolation?

Employees working from home during self-isolation or quarantine have to be paid for the work they’re doing.

Full-time and part-time employees should also be paid their normal pay if:

  • their employer directs them to stay home in line with advice, such as the Australian Government’s health and quarantine advice
  • they aren’t sick with coronavirus
  • they are ready, willing and able to work.

Employees are not entitled to be paid (unless they use paid leave entitlements) if they can’t work because:

  • an enforceable government direction requires them to self-quarantine
  • government-imposed travel restrictions are in place (for example, they’re stuck overseas)
  • Employers should consider any award, agreement, employment contracts or workplace policies that apply, because they could be more generous.

Federal and state coronavirus payments?

The Australian Government has introduced a Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment for some workers during coronavirus. 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, employees can visit Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment on Services Australia’s website. CLICK HERE

Additionally, some Australian states are also providing hardship payments for certain workers who don’t have access to paid sick leave and can’t work because they are waiting for coronavirus test results. 

Employees can directly go to:

SA COVID-19 Cluster Isolation Payment: CLICK HERE Victoria – Coronavirus (COVID-19) Test Isolation Payment: CLICK HERE

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