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Coronavirus/COVID-19 - Leave Arrangements

NOTE: The situation regarding arrangements for businesses and employees impacted by the virus is changing rapidly. Be sure to ​​subscribe to this blog and/or our social media pages so you can receive any updates. This article includes general information only and should not be viewed as legal advice. This is an updated version of an earlier blog. We believe the information below to be current as of 24 March 2020.

As readers will be aware, the situation relating to Coronavirus is escalating and changing rapidly. This article provides our current understanding of the arrangements relating to leave for affected employees.

  • If an employee (who is not a casual employee) is diagnosed with the virus, or is providing care or support to a family member who has been diagnosed, they are entitled to available personal /carer's leave (subject to the usual requirements relating to evidence being provided).

  • If an employee (who is not a casual employee) has NOT been diagnosed with the virus, and is NOT providing care or support to a family member who has been diagnosed, yet is required for whatever reason to self-isolate, they are NOT entitled to paid Personal/Carers Leave. That said, employers are being encouraged to be flexible where they can be in terms of, for example, work from home arrangements or offering the employee the opportunity to take annual leave that might be available to them. Some larger employers have elected to continue to pay people in this situation (without drawing upon their annual leave or other entitlements), but this is not a requirement and it is not likely that a lot of smaller business employers will be able to do so. As a result, leave without pay would generally apply.

  • If an employee (who is not a casual employee) is NOT subject to the Government directives regarding isolation, is NOT unwell or providing care or support to a family member, yet as a precaution chooses to self-isolate, they are NOT entitled to access paid personal leave.

  • If an employer has reasonable basis to believe that an employee may be a risk to others, the employee must be directed to not attend work. If the employee is unwell or caring for and immediate family member they will be able to access available personal/carers leave. If they are not unwell yet the employer for some reason directs them to not attend work, the employer would generally need to continue to pay them their usual pay, even if they are unable to work from home.

  • Carer's leave can be used to provide care or support to a member of the employee's immediate family or household who requires care or support because of an unexpected emergency affecting them. An unexpected emergency would likely include where children are unexpectedly home from school because of a school closure. It should be noted that there is some inconsistency in the legal advice regarding this issue, with some advisors offering the view that personal/carers leave may not apply, or at least not for an extended period. 

Things are changing quickly, so subscribe to this blog and/or our social media pages so you can receive any updates. Of course, contact us if we can be of assistance.

In the meantime, we strongly recommend that employers allow employees to work from home if possible, practice good hygiene in the workplace, and observe and practice proper social-distancing at work.

More information on hygiene practices and social distancing can be found at:

https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-information-on-social-distancing

https://www.health.gov.au/resources/videos/coronavirus-video-good-hygiene-starts-here

​This article represents our best understanding of the situation at the time of writing. It should not be considered legal advice.

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