Know and exercise your paid and unpaid leave entitlements

The COVID-19 virus is seriously impacting the community in a variety of ways.

You may be required to self-isolate and be absent from work due several reasons:

  1. Mandatory Government ordered quarantine resulting from overseas travel.
  2. Self-isolation in the event of symptoms.
  3. Actual infection.
  4. Contact with an infected person.
  5. The need to care for an affected individual.
  6. Your employer has directed you to stay away from the workplace due to health and safety concerns.

 The required period of isolation will generally be 14 days.

The right to paid or other leave will depend on whether you are employed on a casual or permanent basis.


Paid leave entitlements

For permanent employees, the National Employment Standards provide for 10 days of paid personal/carers leave for full-time workers for each year of service, and pro-rata for part-time workers. Such leave can be taken if you are not fit for work because of a personal illness or if you need to provide or support to a member of your immediate family or a member of your household.

If an immediate family member or member of your household develops an illness that poses a serious threat to their life, sustains an injury that poses such a threat or if they die, as a permanent employee you are entitled to 2 days paid compassionate leave.  That leave can be taken to spend time with that person during the course of their illness or injury or after their death and can be taken as a single 2 day period or in 2 one day periods.

If you are a permanent employee you may also elect to use annual or long service leave with the approval of your employer. You may instead elect to take leave without pay. Again, this will require employer approval.

If your employment is covered by an SDA negotiated Enterprise Agreement you may be entitled to superior leave entitlements and you should check your Agreement here.


Unpaid leave entitlements

The National Employment Standards provide an entitlement to 2 days unpaid leave from employment to care for a person who is sick and requires care. If you are a casual employee in either retail or fast food and your employment is not covered by an Enterprise Agreement, your Awards also state that your employer cannot legally fail to re-engage you for taking such leave.

If you are employed under an SDA negotiated Enterprise Agreement check your rights here.


Fighting for a better deal for vulnerable workers

 Unfortunately for many casual employees, absence from work means no income. Permanent employees can access personal/carer’s leave if available.

The SDA continues to call on Government and employers for special paid leave for all workers if they are required to self-isolate – whether you’re a full-time, part-time, casual or a contract worker. Join with over 6,000 co-workers and show your support for this by signing our petition here.

Woolworths, Big W, Dan Murphy’s, BWS, EG Fuel, Target, Officeworks and Kmart are to be commended on their decision to make payments of up to 2 weeks special paid leave to affected casual staff. Such leave has also been made available by those employers for permanent staff who may have exhausted their personal leave. Calculation of the amount of such leave for casuals will be based on the hours they would have worked during that 2-week roster.

We call on all other retailers and fast food operators to follow these industry leaders, while the Government remains unwilling to support affected employees with paid leave.


Payment for WHS directions and Workers Compensation

If an employer directs a full or part time employee not to work due to workplace health and safety risks, the Union argues that the employee should be entitled to be paid while the direction continues.


An example of this is where the employee has symptoms consistent with a potential COVID-19 infection and might require the employee to be absent for 14 days or until medical clearance is given and evidence provided.


While infection rates remain relatively low, it may be possible to trace infection with COVID-19 to a contact at work. Subject to satisfactory proof that an infection occurred I the course of work, you may be eligible to claim workers compensation benefits for time lost and the cost of medical care. Contact the Union for expert advice and assistance if you believe you may have an entitlement as a result of contracting COVID-19 through your work.

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