Pandemic Leave and leave at Half Pay for Award Employees

Professionals Australia has recently made application to the Fair Work Commission, in conjunction with the ACTU and its affiliated unions, to extend to the end of 2021 the provision of unpaid pandemic leave and the ability for employees to take twice the amount of leave at half pay.  

We succeeded! The Fair Work Commission’s decision is a victory for our award covered members, providing them with additional leave benefits and peace of mind at a time when there is still uncertainty around the pandemic.

We at PA have compiled for you the following information: 

Who has access to the Pandemic Leave and Leave at Half Pay entitlements?

If you are covered by a Federal Modern Award, you will be able to rely on the entitlements which are contained in Schedule X to each of the Modern Awards that cover most members of Professionals Australia (including the Pharmacy Industry Award, the Professional Employees Award, the Architects Award and various other industry awards).

In what circumstances am I entitled to take Pandemic Leave?

If your employment is covered by a modern award with the extended Pandemic benefits, you will have an entitlement to take up to 2 weeks’ unpaid leave if you are required by government or medical authorities or on the advice of a medical practitioner to self-isolate and you are consequently prevented from working, or you are otherwise prevented from working by measures taken by government or medical authorities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. You will have to give your employer notice of taking Pandemic leave and the reason, as soon as practicable (which may be a time after the leave has started). If you and your employer agree, you may take unpaid Pandemic Leave for a longer period.

How will ‘Annual leave at half pay’ work?

If you are required to self-isolate or prevented from working due to measures taken by the government or medical authorities in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, instead of taking your paid annual leave on full pay, you may agree with your employer to you taking twice as much leave on half pay.

What if my employer isn’t aware of the Pandemic leave award entitlements or won’t agree to allow me to take annual leave at half pay?

If you are covered by a modern award, the award will contain a dispute resolution clause which provides for you to raise a dispute about a matter under the Award against your employer. If the dispute fails to resolve after discussions at your workplace between you and your Manager, you can apply for the dispute to be Conciliated by the Fair Work Commission.

If you are a member of Professionals Australia and you require advice or representation regarding a work-related issue, (including whether you are award covered), you can contact our Workplace Advice and Support team on 1300 273 762 or at was@professionalsaustralia.org.au.