Employment impacted by the COVID-19 Coronavirus

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State system private sector employers and employees impacted by COVID-19

WA image icon This information is relevant to employers and employees in the WA state industrial relations system – sole traders, unincorporated partnerships, unincorporated trusts and some incorporated or not for profit organisations. Find out more on the Guide to who is in the WA state system page. Employers and employees under the national industrial relations system should instead refer to the Fair Work Ombudsman.

From Friday 14 October 2022, COVID-19 mandatory isolation requirements have been removed.

Some public health and social measures apply throughout Western Australia to help safely manage COVID-19 in the community and keep Western Australians safe. Visit www.wa.gov.au/covid19 for details.

This page provides information for private sector employers and employees on employment obligations and entitlements relevant to a range of situations as outlined below.

Employee is sick with COVID-19

Full time and part time employees who cannot attend work because they are sick with COVID-19 can take accrued paid personal leave.

Under the Minimum Conditions of Employment Act 1993, full time and part time employees accrue paid personal leave equivalent to the number of hours they would ordinarily work in a two week period – up to a maximum of 76 hours per year. Personal leave is a cumulative entitlement, which means that any unused personal leave is carried over and added to the next year’s entitlement.

An employer can require an employee to provide reasonable evidence before they are paid for any time off work on personal leave. Reasonable evidence may include a medical certificate, but is not necessarily limited to this.

Casual employees are not entitled to paid personal leave.

Visit the Personal leave page for more information.

If an employee has used up all of their paid personal leave, an employer and employee may agree that the employee access another form of accrued paid leave, such as annual leave or long service leave, for the period the employee is unable to attend work. Information on annual leave and long service leave is available on the Wageline website.

Annual leave must generally be taken by agreement between an employer and employee. An employer cannot direct an employee as to when they must take a period of annual leave.

An employer also cannot direct an employee who is covered by the Long Service Leave Act to take long service leave at a particular time. Some employees are entitled to long service leave under an award, industrial agreement, other legislation or an agreement with their employer. Employers must comply with those provisions, including in relation to whether they are or are not able to direct an employee to take a period of long service leave at a particular time.

If an employee is not utilising paid leave entitlements, employers and employees can agree that an employee will take a period of unpaid leave.

An employee who is required to self-isolate, by government or medical authorities or acting on the advice of a medical practitioner, may be entitled to take up to two weeks’ unpaid pandemic leave. Visit the Unpaid pandemic leave page for more information.

Under the termination provisions of the federal Fair Work Act 2009, which apply to state system employees, it is unlawful to terminate an employee on certain specified grounds, including temporary absence from work due to illness or injury. For more information visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website.

A member of the employee’s family or household is sick with COVID-19

If an employee needs to look after a family member or a member of their household who is sick with COVID-19, they are entitled to take any paid personal leave they have accrued.

Under the Minimum Conditions of Employment Act full time and part time employees accrue paid personal leave equivalent to the number of hours they would ordinarily work in a two week period – up to a maximum of 76 hours per year. Personal leave is a cumulative entitlement, which means that any unused personal leave is carried over and added to the next year’s entitlement.

All employees, including casual employees, are entitled to unpaid personal leave for caring purposes under the Minimum Conditions of Employment Act. An employee is entitled to up to two days of unpaid personal leave for each occasion when a member of the employee’s family or household requires care or support because of a personal illness or personal injury affecting the member of the family or household; or an unexpected emergency affecting the household member of the family or household. Full time and part time employees must take any paid personal leave they have available before accessing unpaid personal leave.

Awards, industrial agreements and contracts of employment which provide more beneficial entitlements than the Minimum Conditions of Employment Act must also be complied with.

For the purposes of personal leave, a member of the employee’s family or household is defined by the Minimum Conditions of Employment Act as any of the following persons:

  • the employee’s spouse or de facto partner;
  • a child, step-child or grandchild of the employee (including an adult child, step-child or grandchild);
  • a parent, step-parent or grandparent of the employee;
  • a sibling of the employee; or
  • any other person who, at or immediately before the relevant time for assessing the employee’s eligibility to take leave, lived with the employee as a member of the employee’s household.

An employer can require an employee to provide reasonable evidence before they are paid for any time off work on personal leave. Reasonable evidence may include a medical certificate, but is not necessarily limited to this.

Please refer to the Personal leave page for more information.

If an employee has used up all of their paid personal leave, they may agree with their employer to access another form of paid leave such as annual leave or long service leave for the period the employee is unable to attend work. Information on annual leave and long service leave is available on the Wageline website.

Annual leave must generally be taken by agreement between an employer and employee. An employer cannot direct an employee as to when they must take a period of annual leave.

An employer also cannot direct an employee who is covered by the Long Service Leave Act to take long service leave at a particular time. Some employees are entitled to long service leave under an award, industrial agreement, other legislation or an agreement with their employer. Employers must comply with those provisions, including in relation to whether they are or are not able to direct an employee to take a period of long service leave at a particular time.

Unpaid pandemic leave

An entitlement to two weeks’ unpaid pandemic leave may be available to an employee who is required to self-isolate, by government or medical authorities or acting on the advice of a medical practitioner. Visit the Unpaid pandemic leave page for more information.

COVID-19 testing and employment

For information regarding testing procedures and requirements, please refer to the WA Government website.

What leave entitlements apply for obtaining a COVID-19 test?

There is no specific leave entitlement for employees getting a COVID-19 test during work hours.

Full time and part time employees who cannot come to work because they are sick at the time of obtaining a COVID-19 test can take accrued paid personal leave.

If an employee is obtaining a COVID-19 test only because they have been directed to do so by their employer (and it isn’t required under a public health order), the employee would be entitled to obtain a test during work hours and be paid for the time as if they had worked.

An employee who is required to self-isolate, by government or medical authorities or acting on the advice of a medical practitioner, is entitled to take up to two weeks’ unpaid pandemic leave. Visit the Unpaid pandemic leave page for more information.

Previous JobKeeper scheme implications for long service leave

In 2020, temporary state system JobKeeper provisions were introduced for private sector state system employers and employees who were participating in the Commonwealth JobKeeper scheme.

Although the JobKeeper General Order no longer applies, there may be implications for an employee’s long service leave entitlements if an employee was stood down or had their working hours reduced as a result of a ‘JobKeeper enabling direction’ being issued.

Visit the JobKeeper enabling stand down directions and long service leave entitlements page for more information.

Further information

Visit the WA Government website for information on COVID-19, including the latest health advice.

Department of Health WA

Australian Department of Health

Workplace health and safety

Information on the responsibilities and entitlements under the Work Health and Safety Act on COVID-19 Coronavirus is available on Worksafe's website.

Small business assistance

Small businesses who are seeking information on available assistance should contact Small Business Development Corporation on 13 31 40.

 

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