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Important changes to the Unpaid Pandemic Leave


Detailed below are important updates for employers in relation to leave entitlements and provisions from the Fair Work Commission. The Commission has extended the unpaid pandemic leave entitlement under the temporary Schedule X across the majority of award, with provisions ending 30 June 2022.  The provision for annual leave at half pay has not been extended, and ended on 31 December 2021.

The temporary new Schedule X was inserted in to 99 awards back in April 2020, and provided 2 weeks of unpaid pandemic leave, plus the option for employees to take twice as much annual leave at half their normal pay with their employer’s agreement.


How can employees access up to 2 weeks of unpaid pandemic leave?


Employees can access up to 2 weeks of unpaid pandemic leave if they cannot work due to:

  • Self-isolate by government or medical authorities, or instructed to do so by a medical practitioner
  • Measures by government or medical authorities in response to the pandemic


Other important points to note are:

  • With no accrual required, employees can immediately access unpaid pandemic leave in full, and is available to full time, part time, and casual employees
  • Use of paid leave is not required before accessing unpaid pandemic leave
  • Start of leave must begin before the end date of unpaid pandemic leave provision based on the award. End date of the leave can extend beyond the end date of the provision.
  • Leave is not pro-rated for employees who don’t work full time
  • Other leave entitlements are not affected by the unpaid pandemic leave provision, be it paid or unpaid
  • Employees are required to inform employer, and provide a reason for taking leave, together with a time period
  • Employers are entitled to evidence from employees on the reason for taking leave


 Awards listed below have the unpaid pandemic leave provision extended to 30 June 2022:

  • Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services Award
  • Aged Care Award
  • Airline Operations – Ground Staff Award
  • Airport Award
  • Alpine Resorts Award
  • Aluminium Industry Award
  • Ambulance and Patient Transport Industry Award
  • Amusement, Events and Recreation Award
  • Animal Care and Veterinary Services Award
  • Aquaculture Industry Award
  • Architects Award
  • Asphalt Industry Award
  • Banking, Finance and Insurance Award
  • Building and Construction Award
  • Business Equipment Award
  • Car Parking Award
  • Cement, Lime and Quarrying Award
  • Cemetery Industry Award
  • Children’s Services Award
  • Cleaning Services Award
  • Contract Call Centres Award
  • Corrections and Detention (Private Sector) Award
  • Cotton Ginning Award
  • Dry Cleaning and Laundry Industry Award
  • Fast Food Industry Award
  • Fitness Industry Award
  • Food, Beverage and Tobacco Manufacturing Award
  • Funeral Industry Award
  • Gardening and Landscaping Services Award
  • Graphic Arts Award
  • Hair and Beauty Industry Award
  • Health Professionals and Support Services Award
  • Horse and Greyhound Training Award
  • Horticulture Award
  • Hospitality Industry (General) Award
  • Joinery Award
  • Labour Market Assistance Award
  • Legal Services Award
  • Local Government Industry Award
  • Manufacturing and Associated Industries and Occupations Award
  • Meat Industry Award
  • Medical Practitioners Award
  • Mobile Crane Award
  • Nursery Award
  • Nurses Award
  • Pastoral Award
  • Pest Control Industry Award
  • Pharmaceutical Industry Award
  • Pharmacy Industry Award
  • Plumbing Award
  • Poultry Processing Award
  • Premixed Concrete Award
  • Professional Award
  • Professional Diving Industry (Recreational) Award
  • Racing Clubs Events Award
  • Racing Industry Ground Maintenance Award
  • Registered and Licensed Clubs Award
  • Restaurant Industry Award
  • General Retail Industry Award
  • Salt Industry Award
  • Seafood Processing Award
  • Security Services Industry Award
  • Silviculture Award
  • Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award
  • State Government Agencies Award
  • Storage Services and Wholesale Award
  • Sugar Industry Award
  • Textile, Clothing, Footwear and Associated Industries Award
  • Timber Industry Award
  • Waste Management Award
  • Water Industry Award
  • Wine Industry Award
  • Wool Storage, Sampling and Testing Award