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During the coronavirus pandemic employees may be unable to work and need to access leave. For example, employees may need to access leave if they:

  • have travelled overseas prior to 18 March 2020 and are required to self-isolate
  • are unwell, being tested for coronavirus or have tested positive for coronavirus and need to follow medical and health advice
  • are caring for sick family members
  • are caring for family members due to closure of schools and caring facilities (Special leave applies where the school or caring facility is formally closed due to COVID-19 and there is no ability for a child or person to attend. Special leave does not apply for usual school closures such as school vacation dates.); or
  • are unable to attend work due to transport disruptions.

The information below and in the NSW Government’s circular on Employee Arrangements during COVID-19 provides guidance on leave entitlements.

All leave is paid on a pro rata basis.

Where employees are working from home whilst providing care to a family member, it is expected employees can balance caring responsibilities with their ability to undertake productive work. If this is not possible, other leave provisions will apply in accordance with the NSW Government circular.

If working from home, usual payment arrangements and conditions apply.

Where an employee is not sick but is directed not to attend the workplace due to isolation requirements, managers should work with employees to identify work from home opportunities during the quarantine period.

Where work is unable to be provided to these employees, they are to be paid as normal and placed on paid special leave for up to 20 days. The 20 days are paid on a pro rata basis. Amendments are currently being made to our pay systems to enable staff to select ‘special leave’ for various reasons related to COVID-19. In the interim, please select the generic ‘special leave’ option.

Where the workplace is closed, flexible work arrangements should be considered either at home or from another office location.

Where work is unable to be provided to these employees, they are to be paid as normal and placed on paid special leave. Amendments are currently being made to our pay systems to enable staff to select ‘special leave’ for various reasons related to COVID-19. In the interim and only where there is no work available staff should remain on pay and do not enter leave.

Where employees who are not directly involved in the pandemic response cannot be gainfully employed at their normal place of work, remotely from home, or at another office, such employees, where feasible and appropriate, may be temporarily assigned to work in another role within the same agency or in another government agency pursuant to relevant legislative provisions.

For an employee who is unwell, sick leave applies.

Staff who are unwell should comply with health and medical advice, including advice that they should not attend the workplace. The latest information about self-isolation and quarantine requirements is available from the NSW Health website and the Australian Health website.

If sick leave is exhausted, special sick leave may be granted on a case-by-case basis.

Current advice from the Australian Government is that people who are at greater risk of more serious illness from COVID-19 are:

  • people aged 70 years and over
  • people aged 65 years and over with chronic medical conditions
  • people with compromised immune systems
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the age of 50.

More information about leave entitlements for staff who are at higher risk, as well as information for pregnant staff, is available on the intranet.
Please visit either:

  • FACS intranet – navigate to Employee Help, then select My Leave and COVID-19 leave entitlements.
  • Justice intranet – navigate to Human Resources, then select Conditions, Leave and Pay. Select All Leave, scroll and select COVID-19 leave entitlements.

Up to 20 days paid special leave will be provided where someone is required to isolate and/or are unable to work because they are.

  • Caring for sick family members where they are unwell due to COVID-19;
  • caring for family members due to closure of schools and caring facilities (special leave does not apply for usual school closures such as school vacation dates); or
  • unable to attend work due to transport disruptions.

After the 20 days of special leave has been used, employees may access accrued leave entitlements, including sick, annual, family and community services leave, extended/long service leave.

Vacation care services in each geographical area should continue to be available for children that do not have appropriate supervision at home.

Casual employees may be entitled to up to 20 days special leave if they are absent from the workplace as result of COVID- 19. This is the same entitlement as ongoing staff. All payments will be issued pro rata and at the base rate of pay, that is, it will be paid at the Monday to Friday day shift rate.

NSW Government has passed amendments to the Long Service Leave Act 1995. Please note that this only applies to casual employees within DCJ.

The key amendments are:

  • waiving the one-month notice period for taking leave (by mutual agreement between the employee and employer)
  • greater flexibility for employees to take this leave in shorter blocks if they wish (rather than traditional monthly blocks).

The legislation will have effect for six months from 24 March 2020, with the possibility of an extension to one year.

Workers compensation

NSW Government has passed amendments to the Workers Compensation Act 1987 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The key amendments are:

  • Employees who contract COVID-19 are presumed to have contracted the virus in the course of their employment.
  • The employee is presumed incapable for work from the date they contract COVID-19 until seven days after a medical practitioner confirms they no longer have the virus.
  • The date the employee contracts the virus is when whichever of the following occurs first: they are diagnosed positive by a test; a medical practitioner classifies them as having COVID-19; or they die as a result of COVID-19.

The amendments cover workers in prescribed employment categories, including:

  • disability and aged care facilities
  • refugees, halfway houses and homelessness shelters
  • courts and tribunals
  • correctional centres and detention centres
  • the cleaning industry
  • any other type of employment prescribed by the regulations for the purposes of this definition.

Casual workers in prescribed employment are also covered if they have worked one or more of the 21 days prior to the date they contracted the virus.

On 18 March 2020 the Australian Government advised all Australians not to travel overseas at this time.

If an employee travels overseas after 18 March 2020 they will not be able to access the 20 days special paid leave for the mandatory isolation period.

Further information about the travel restriction is available on the Australian Government’s Health website and the Smart Traveller website.

Leave entitlements information is guided by the NSW government circular: Employee Arrangements during COVID-19.

For more information about staff leave entitlements, please speak to your manager or HR Business Partner.

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Last updated: 20 May 2020