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COVID-19 resurgence extends unpaid pandemic leave – Employee Rights/ Labour Relations



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The full bench of the Fair Work Commission (FWC)
handed down a decision on Friday 15 July 2022 confirming that it
will extend the unpaid pandemic leave provisions (Schedule
X provisions
) in certain modern awards.

Essentially, this means that employees covered under the
following modern awards will continue to have access to 2
weeks’ unpaid pandemic leave if they’re unable to work
because of COVID-19 (i.e. are required to self-isolate), until 31
December 2022:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and
    Practitioners and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services
    Award 2020
    ;

  • Aged Care Award 2010;

  • Ambulance and Patient Transport Industry Award
    2020
    ;

  • Health Professionals and Support Services Award
    2020
    ;

  • Supported Employment Services Award 2020; and

  • Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services
    Industry Award 2010
    .

Extending the Schedule X provisions in the above modern awards
addresses the “most at-risk and vulnerable sectors, namely the
health care, aged care and other care sectors”, as stated by
the full bench of the FWC.

This decision stands in the face of a resurgence of COVID-19
cases across the Australian community, in which the full bench of
the FWC noted that there is “an estimated 316,789 current
active cases, which means that the number of close contacts will be
correspondingly high.”

Ultimately, time-limited Schedule X provisions in any other
modern awards ceased operation on 30 June 2022, meaning that
employees covered under those modern awards do not have access to
unpaid pandemic leave.

While the extended Schedule X provisions provide an
unpaid entitlement, the Albanese Government has confirmed
that the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment will be reinstated.
Further information regarding this payment can be found on the
Services Australia website.

COVID-19 Award Flexibility – applications to
vary Schedule X
[2022] FWCFB 130

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.

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