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Schedule X: changes to employee leave under coronavirus

On 8 April 2020, the Fair Work Commission made determinations temporarily varying 99 awards by inserting the new “Schedule X – Additional measures during the COVID-19 pandemic” amendment.

The amendment was made at the Commission’s own initiative to assist employers and employees address the unique circumstances associated with coronavirus in the workplace.

Consistent with the 14-day isolation period mandated by the Government, employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are normally required to work on-site will be able to access:

  • 2 weeks “unpaid pandemic leave” (available immediately to full-time, part-time and casual employees); and
  • Twice as much annual leave at half pay instead of the normal amount of annual leave at full pay.

The awards with the temporary Schedule X variations were selected on the basis of:

  • the industries likely to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in the short and medium term
  • the awards which have a significant proportion of award-reliant employees; and
  • awards with a high proportion of small businesses.

There are identified exceptions to the application of Schedule X, including maritime, construction and mining-related awards. The Fair Work Commission assessed the operation of these awards (and industries) as not being as adversely impacted as others.

While Schedule X was initially intended to operate from 8 April 2020 until 30 June 2020, the Commission has recently extended the entitlement to unpaid pandemic leave and annual leave at half pay in 63 awards. For these awards, Schedule X now applies until 30 September 2020.

For more information about the entitlement to unpaid pandemic leave and annual leave at half pay, including when and how these provisions apply, check out the Fair Work Ombudsman’s page on “Unpaid pandemic leave & annual leave changes to awards”.

Supernerds can also read the Fair Work Commission’s decision and determination extending Schedule X.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way workplaces do business and those slow to adapt are at risk of being left behind. But who knows where to start? Bare Bones Consulting does. If you’d prefer to thrive rather than just survive in today’s environment, why not speak with someone with a genuine track record of HR results? Do it…you know you want to.

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Note: Bare Bones Consulting provides HR services for employers. Employees seeking advice on workplace concerns should contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94.