Coronavirus and Australian workplace laws
If your workplace has been impacted by coronavirus, we have information about your workplace rights and obligations at Coronavirus and Australian workplace laws.
A number of temporary changes have been introduced due to coronavirus including:
- JobKeeper – changes to the Fair Work Act to support the JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme
- temporary award changes – allowing for temporary workplace flexibility in some awards
- pandemic leave – unpaid and paid pandemic leave (including worker and disaster payments) during coronavirus.
These changes may affect the information on this page.
Part of being the boss is managing requests from your employees about taking leave or having flexible working arrangements. It’s important to know how (and how quickly) to respond, especially when you have a legal obligation to do so. Get more information on:
Annual leave (also known as holiday pay) starts accruing for full and part-time employees from when they start work and any unused leave rolls over from year to year. Full and part-time employees are entitled to 4 weeks of paid annual leave a year based on their ordinary hours of work. Casual employees aren’t entitled to annual leave.
You can use our Leave Calculator to work out an employee’s leave balance.
It’s a good idea to have a policy that makes it clear to employees how and when they can make a request for annual leave. You can only refuse a leave request if the refusal is reasonable.
You might be able to direct an employee to take annual leave in certain circumstances if it’s in your award or agreement (eg. a Christmas shutdown).
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Sick and carer’s leave
Full-time and part-time employees are entitled to 10 days of paid sick/carer’s leave a year (pro rata for part-time employees), based on their ordinary hours of work. The entitlement to 10 days of sick/carer’s leave can be calculated as 1/26th of an employee’s ordinary hours of work in a year. This leave starts accruing from the first day of work, and rolls over from year to year.
Casual employees aren’t entitled to paid sick leave.
Employees can also use this leave if they need to provide care for an immediate family or household member.
You can request evidence from your employee if they are using their sick or carer’s leave. Medical certificates and statutory declarations are generally acceptable forms of evidence.
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Having a baby is a wonderful moment in a person’s life – but it’s also time-consuming! If an employee has worked for you for at least 12 months, they’re eligible for 12 months of unpaid parental leave if they have, or adopt, a child. If you have an employee planning to take parental leave, they need to:
There are a few things that you and your employee need to consider for parental leave, including the rules around extending parental leave and going back to work early. Learn more in our Maternity and parental leave section.
- give 10 weeks’ notice
- reconfirm their dates with 4 weeks’ notice
- provide evidence (if you ask for it).
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Other types of leave include:
For more information on these types of leave, see the Leave section section of our website.
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Flexibility in the workplace
Allowing your employees to have flexible workplace arrangements shows you respect the balance between their work and their personal lives, and can boost morale and staff retention. Your employees might be legally entitled to ask for flexible working arrangements, such as changes to:
- their hours of work (eg. start and finish times)
- the way they work (eg. split shifts or job sharing)
- where they work (eg. working from home).
If you get a request, you have to respond in writing within 21 days saying whether it’s approved or refused. If an award applies, before responding in writing, you must have a discussion with the employee to try to reach an agreement about the changes an employee has requested to their work conditions. You can only refuse on reasonable business grounds and if you do, you need to include the reasons for the refusal in your written response.
Read about eligibility and reasonable business grounds on our Flexible working arrangements page.
Employees can also request to enter into an Individual flexibility arrangement (IFA) to vary the terms of their award or registered agreement. The employee must be better off overall and both parties must genuinely agree in writing.
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