FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ON CORONAVIRUS
Q&A'S FOR SYNC OR SWIM CLIENTS (EMPLOYERS) AND TEAM MEMBERS
This must in no way be considered advice. Your individual Award or new rulings from the Fair Work may dictate slightly different outcomes. If you need specific advice, please book a time with us at Sync or Swim, or contact the Fair Work via one of the methods detailed here.
You may keep informed about the Fair Works position on Coronvirus via this link at the Fair Work. They are updating it each day.
For those interested in reading the recent Fair Work Act changes (temporary changes), you can download a copy of the amendments here.
Q1: I've been impacted by Coronavirus. How can I apply for Jobseeker assistance?
A1: The Government has doubled the potential payment amount for those who are working and impacted by COVID. This link explains the changes. The increased payment is available from 27 April. Leading up to that it would be the usual Jobseeker payment. Read more here.
This link is the usual Jobseeker (Was called Newstart Allowance) page.
This link is where to apply. The sooner you lodge your application the better, as it will be backdated.
And, if you are approved for Jobseeker you can then likely access other entitlements like rent assistance etc.
You can call Jobseeker Monday to Friday 8am to 5pm on 132 850.
Q2: If I am put into quarantine due to exposure to someone infected, but I am not sick, will I be paid?
A2: In the first instance, you could access your annual leave. After that has been exhausted you would be on leave without pay.
Q3: If I am put into quarantine because I am sick, will I be paid?
A3: You would access your sick leave entitlements. If this is exhausted, you may ask your employer to access your Annual Leave. Once this is exhausted, you would be on leave without pay. Note that in most circumstances a business does not have to pay annual leave entitlements. However, your employer may like to consider this as an option for you. Access to this would usually depend on the timing and business cashflow constraints.
Q4: If I need to care for someone in quarantine, am I entitled to sick or carers leave?
A4: If you are caring for a member of your 'immediate family'* or 'household member'*, then you can access your carers (sick/personal) leave. Then the same principles in A2 apply. You may ask your employer to consider allowing you access to your Annual Leave. Then you would be on leave without pay.
Q5: If I am well, but in quarantine, can I work from home and be paid my usual wage?
A5: This can be brainstormed on a case by case basis. This will depend on the ability of your role to operate from home. Note that at Sync or Swim we are helping all of our clients explore this option for all roles.
Q6: What happens if I need to look after my child(ren) due to school closures?
A6: The Fair Work has been changing its perspective on this and it is a moving beast (i.e. their position on Friday 13th is different to Monday 16th). If this occurs, we recommend employers contact us in the first instance for up to date guidance, and/or contact the Fair Work directly.
Q7: What happens if we are put into "shut down" mode by the Federal or State Government?
A7: This is where it gets tricky. This is where the Fair Work is continually changing their mind! This is what all businesses, including yours, are constantly brainstorming given we need to be prepared for short (2 weeks) and long term (6 months) implications.
In the first instance, we are supporting all of our clients to explore ways to enable their teams to work remotely and continue operating and being paid as normal.
In the event a person can not work from home, then they would access annual leave entitlements. And then leave without pay. Naturally, we are working on ways to minimise this occurring.
In the event, the volume of work slows down and there is not enough work to occupy everyone, we will follow the consultation procedures in the relevant Modern Award. As a minimum, this would involve consulting with teams and their team members to brainstorm solutions.
e.g. some people might want to take a break from work (paid annual leave or unpaid).
e.g. teams might decide the best course of action is to alternate weeks that team members work (paid) or don't work (unpaid).
e.g. team members might be redeployed to other roles that can be filled.
Q8: What if I want to stay home as a precaution? What am I entitled to?
Q8: Employees who want to stay at home as a precaution (but who are not directed to by their employer or as a result of a government order) need to come to an arrangement with their employer that best suits their workplace, such as making a request to work from home (if this is a practical option) or to take some form of paid or unpaid leave, such as annual leave or long service leave.
Q9: If I am eligible, can I access my long service leave (LSL) in full, or pro-rata?
A9: This needs to be determined on an individual basis. This is because eligibility rules differ through each State, Industry, Enterprise Agreement or Award. It is worthwhile raising this as an option with your employer and they can seek guidance via us or the Fair Work.
Q10: What about the stimulus package? Can't my employer pass that money down to me rather than put me on leave without pay?
A10: Firstly, the maximum amount a business may access is $25k. Secondly, it is not a cash injection, rather a credit to their BAS lodgement. It is being calculated based on quarterly (or in some cases monthly) PAYG tax withholdings. Current estimates are that businesses will not see any relief until mid-May. At this stage, most businesses will likely be facing a downturn in their income, but will still have fixed costs to pay. Businesses will need to juggle how they apply their "reduced BAS" expense to their business.
Q11: Will I need to supply evidence of my need to be at home?
A11: Employers may ask for reasonable evidence to justify an employee's absence on sick or carer’s leave. For example, a school announcement about a shutdown, a doctor's certificate for your illness or your immediate family member or household member.
Q12: What if I don't want to use my annual or personal leave, and would rather be on leave without pay? i.e. I want to save it for later down the track.
A12: You have the right to ask your employer to apply leave without pay to your period not working.
An ‘immediate family member’ is:
a spouse or former spouse, de facto partner or former de facto partner, child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling;
a child, parent, grandparent, grandchild or sibling of the employee's spouse or de facto partner.
A ‘household member’ is any person who lives with the employee.