Aged care workers get paid pandemic leave

The Fair Work Commission awarded paid pandemic leave to all aged care workers earlier this week.

The FWC awarded paid pandemic leave to three aged care awards on Monday in a bid to stop staff going to work sick.

Prime Minister Morrison yesterday confirmed he recently spoke with the Industrial Relations Minister about pandemic leave for more sectors.

“As you know, there are ongoing discussions between the Government, employee groups and employees about a range of issues managing the pandemic, and that will be one of them,” he said.

Aged care awards

The Fair Work Commission ruling means all residential aged care workers are entitled to two weeks paid leave from July 29, 2020, for three months.

The FWC also granted the paid pandemic leave to casuals who are “engaged on a regular and systemic basis”.

A casual’s pandemic leave payment will be based on their average earnings over the past six weeks.

Earlier this month, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has acknowledged 80% of the state’s rising COVID-19 cases had been transmitted in the workplace.

The FWC ruling noted that “there is a real risk that employees who do not have access to leave entitlements might not report COVID-19 symptoms which might require them to self-isolate, but rather seek to attend for work out of financial need.”

The FairWork Ombudsman has outlined an example of the circumstances that may lead to a worker taking pandemic leave:

“Freya works as a part-time personal care worker in an aged care facility in Victoria. She is employed under the Aged Care Award and works 26 hours a week. There has been a confirmed case of coronavirus at Freya’s workplace. The case is a person that Freya provided personal care services to within the last 14 days. Freya is required to self-isolate due to close contact with a case of coronavirus. As a personal care worker, there isn’t any work she can do from home. She isn’t sick so isn’t entitled to take paid sick leave. She tells her employer that she will be taking paid pandemic leave for the time she has to self-isolate. Her employer agrees and asks her to get tested for coronavirus as soon as possible. For the time she takes paid pandemic leave, Freya is paid for her ordinary hours of 26 hours a week by her employer. She also continues to accumulate her annual and sick leave while she’s on paid pandemic leave.”

Read our feature on the future of the aged care sector in Business Toolbox.

*Editor’s note: the Federal Government has recently awarded paid pandemic leave for COVID-19-positive workers in Victoria. The payment will become available to any other states that declares a state of disaster as a result of coronavirus.  

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