Paid pandemic leave for residential aged care employees
Paid pandemic leave was previously available to eligible residential aged care employees covered by the Aged Care Award, Nurses Award and Health Services Award.
The temporary Schedule Y, which provided for paid pandemic leave, commenced on the first full pay period on or after 29 July 2020 and stopped applying from 29 March 2021.
Who paid pandemic leave applied to
Schedule Y applied to:
- employers and employees covered by the Aged Care Award
- employers and employees covered by the Nurses Award who worked in the aged care industry
- employers and employees covered by the Health Services Award who worked in the aged care industry.
Paid pandemic leave applied to full-time, part-time and eligible casual employees. To be an eligible casual employee, a casual needed to have been employed on a regular and systematic basis.
When paid pandemic leave applied
Under Schedule Y, employees were entitled to up to 2 weeks of paid pandemic leave if they couldn't work (including from home) because:
- their employer, or government or medical authorities, required them to self-isolate or quarantine
- they had to self-isolate or quarantine while waiting for a coronavirus test result
- they showed symptoms of coronavirus and were advised by a medical practitioner to self-isolate or quarantine
- they have come into contact with a person suspected of having contracted coronavirus, or
- of government or medical authority measures taken in response to coronavirus (including, for example, closing a facility).
Employees who wanted to take paid pandemic leave had to have already been tested for coronavirus for each occasion of leave, or agreed to get tested as soon as possible. If they didn't, they weren't entitled to take the leave.
The leave was available in full immediately to full-time, part-time and eligible casual employees – they didn't have to accrue it. Each time an employee met the criteria, they could have taken up to 2 weeks’ paid pandemic leave.
Employees couldn't take paid pandemic leave if their situation meant they were entitled to take paid sick or carer’s leave instead. For example, if they couldn't work because of a personal illness or injury, or because they needed to provide care or support for a member of their immediate family or household who was sick or injured or to help during a family emergency.
Employees also couldn't take paid pandemic leave if they were entitled to workers compensation benefits because of contracting coronavirus.
The leave needed to start before, but could finish after, 29 March 2021. All leave taken under Schedule Y needed to start before 29 March 2021.
An employer couldn't dismiss an employee or take any other adverse action against them because the employee was entitled to, or took, paid pandemic leave.
Pay rate for paid pandemic leave
Full-time employees who took paid pandemic leave needed to be paid their hourly rate for their ordinary hours of work, the same as taking normal sick leave.
Part-time employees who took paid pandemic leave needed to be paid the higher of either:
- their agreed ordinary hours of work
- an average of their weekly ordinary hours of work for the previous 6 weeks.
Casual employees who took paid pandemic leave needed to be paid an amount based on an average of their weekly pay over the previous 6 weeks. If they had been employed for less than 6 weeks, the pay needed to be based on an average of their weekly pay for the time they were employed.
Notice and evidence
An employee had to let their employer know that they were going to take paid pandemic leave and the reason they took the leave. This had to be done as soon as possible and could be after the leave had started.
An employer could ask an employee for evidence that showed why they took the leave. That evidence had to be enough to satisfy a reasonable person that the employee was entitled to take paid pandemic leave. If they took the leave on the advice of a medical practitioner, the employer could require that the evidence be a medical certificate.
Paid pandemic leave and service
Paid pandemic leave didn't affect other paid or unpaid leave entitlements and counted as service for entitlements under awards and the National Employment Standards.
Employees covered by an agreement
Paid pandemic leave in the Aged Care Award, Nurses Award and Health Services Award didn't apply to employees covered by an enterprise agreement.
Because paid pandemic leave no longer applies, employers and employees need to consider other leave options instead, such as unpaid pandemic leave.
Unpaid pandemic leave provides eligible employees with:
- 2 weeks of unpaid leave.
- the ability to take twice as much annual leave at half their normal pay if their employer agrees.
For more information see Quarantine and self-isolation: pay and leave options.
Read the Fair Work Commission’s record of updates and determinations varying the awards:
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