Update: Fair Work Commission Decision to Provide Paid Pandemic Leave
28 July 2020
IN BRIEF: Aged Care Award, Nurses Award and Health Professionals Award to be varied for paid Pandemic Leave.
The Fair Work Commission decided on Monday that it would introduce paid pandemic leave for employees in the aged care sector covered by the Aged Care Award 2010, the Nurses Award 2010 and the Health Professionals and Support Services Award 2020.
The Commission made this decision based on its findings that:
“employees in the residential aged care sector are exposed to an elevated risk of being required to self-isolate that is currently manifesting itself at least in Victoria…. An employee required to self-isolate may not have access to paid personal leave because, in the case of full-time and part-time employees, they may not be unfit for work such as to qualify for such leave or may have exhausted their leave entitlement or, in the case of casual employees, they do not have an entitlement to such leave. The requirement for self-isolation is primarily to prevent the spread of infection which, in the aged care sector is especially critical because of the vulnerability of aged persons to COVID-19 fatalities.”
The Commission issued draft determinations for the three modern awards, which will be finalised tomorrow (29 July), after the Commission has considered submissions from interested parties.
The Commission has proposed that the awards be varied to provide that:
- the leave entitlement is for workers who are required by their employer, or a government or medical authority, or on the advice of a medical practitioner, to self-isolate because:
- they display COVID-19 symptoms
- they have come into contact with a person suspected of having contracted COVID-19
- they are in isolation awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test
- of measures taken by government or medical authorities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic
- the leave entitlement is limited to up to two weeks’ paid leave on each occasion of self-isolation
- workers who are able to work at home or remotely during self-isolation are not entitled to paid leave
- the entitlement will extend to casual employees engaged on a regular and systematic basis, and would entitle them to payment based on an average of their earnings over the previous six weeks
- the employee cannot take paid pandemic leave if they could instead take paid personal carer’s leave (note however an employee will not be entitled to take paid personal carer’s leave if they are not unwell and are self-isolating as a precaution in line with advice).
The entitlement will operate for a period of three months, with the temporary award variations set to operate from 29 July until 29 October 2020.
The FWC’s determinations varying the Awards can be found here.
Disclaimer: CCER does not give legal advice and this information should not be taken as such.