Information for Employees – Coronavirus (Covid-19)
In the workplace
What if you want to work from home as a precaution?
If applicable you would need to make a request to work from home (if possible), or take some form of paid or unpaid leave. Requests would be subject to normal leave application process.
If an employee contracts the Coronavirus or needs to care for a member of their immediate family who have contracted the virus, they will be entitled to take personal leave (if available). Personal leave is not available where an employee has returned from travel and but not yet sick themselves, but required to “self-quarantine”
Casual Employees are not entitled to sick leave. Where shifts to casual employees are reduced, employees will not be entitled to payment during this period. (See support for workers and households)
Being Stood Down from Employment
Employers have the right to stand down employees where they cannot usefully be employed in be employed in certain circumstances which are outside the control of the employer, (this may include where an employee has been placed in quarantine.). Stand down periods are generally unpaid, but an employer may wish to allow an employee to take paid leave (such as annual leave or long service leave) if requested.
Under Fair Work Act, an employee can only be stood down without pay if they can’t do useful work because of equipment break down, industrial action or a stoppage of work for which the employer can’t be held responsible.
Support for Workers and Households
The Australian Government is providing financial assistance to Australians. This assistance includes income support payments, payments to support households and temporary early releases of superannuation.
- Income support for individuals
- Payments to support households
- Temporary early release of superannuation
- Temporarily reducing superannuation minimum drawdown payments
- Reducing social security deeming rates.
Support for Individuals
The Government is temporarily expanding eligibility to income support payments and establishing a new time-limited Corona virus supplement to be paid at a rate of $550 per fortnight.
The income support payment categories eligible to receive the Coronavirus supplement are:
- Jobseeker Payment 1
- Youth Allowance Jobseeker
- Parenting Payment (Partner and Single)
- Farm Household Allowance
- Special Benefit recipients.
Anyone who is eligible for the Coronavirus supplement will receive the full rate of the supplement of $550 per fortnight.
Payments to support Households
The Government is providing two separate $750 payments to social security, veteran and other income support recipients and eligible concession card holders. The first payment will be made from 31st March 2020 and second payment will be made from 13 July 2020. (the second payment will not be made to those eligible for the Coronavirus supplement.)
Temporary Early Release of Superannuation
The Government is allowing individuals affected by the Coronavirus to Access up to $10,000 of their superannuation in 2019-20 and a further $10,000 in 2020-21. Individuals will not need to pay tax on amounts released and the money they withdraw ill not affect Centrelink or Veterans’ Affairs payments.
There is eligibility conditions to be satisfied if applying for early release. You must satisfy any one or more of the following requirements:
- You are unemployed; or
- You are eligible to receive a job seeker payment, youth allowance for jobseekers, parenting payment (single and partnered), special benefit or farm household allowance; or
- On or after 1 January 2020: you were made redundant; or your working hours were reduced by 20 per cent or more; or if you are a sole trader – your business was suspended or there was a reduction in your turnover of 20% or more.
If your income has been affected
If you have been affected by a reduction or loss of income due to the current pandemic, you may be able to apply for benefits through Centrelink. If you are doing casual or part-time work, but your hours have been reduced, you may still qualify for partial benefits.
The rate of your payment will be tapered down depending on how much employment income you earn each fortnight. From 27th April, sole traders and the self-employed will also be able to receive JobSeeker payment while continuing to operate their business.
If you think that this may be applicable to you, you can start this application online by creating a mygov account.
Further help and assistance available:
Department of Social Services (Centrelink)
Fair Work Ombudsman
Lifeline Australia – 13 11 14
Beyond Blue – 1300 22 4636