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What if I get COVID during my annual leave?

After an exhausting year of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, many Australians were looking forward to switching off for their summer vacation. As you know, there were other ideas for Omicron variants.

Instead of lying by the pool while sipping daiquiri, thousands of people become infected with COVID, take care of those infected with COVID, or become isolated after being identified as close contacts. ..

Fortunately, most people can switch to sick leave so they don’t have to use up their precious annual leave that is sick at home. But how does it work?

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Can I switch to sick leave during my annual leave?

That is correct. If an employee is sick or injured during annual leave under the Fair Labor Act Employees can use paid sick leave qualifications to cover their vacation instead of annual leave..

It does not matter if the annual leave has already been booked and approved or has already started. Employees still have the right to convert it into sick leave.

Is this some kind of special pandemic measure?

No, that’s a long-standing rule. This applies not only to COVID-19, but also if you get sick due to some illness. It also applies if you are injured.

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Does this apply to everyone?

Fair Labor Law covers almost all employees in Australia.. The main exception is employees of some state and local governments that apply to different state systems.

Almost everyone else is under the national system. It doesn’t matter if you’re using an award, a personal contract, or a corporate contract. A spokesperson for Fair Work Ombudsman states that annual leave and sick or caregiver leave are the minimum qualifications under national employment standards. That is, your employer cannot deprive you of these rights, even if you agree.

However, the Fair Labor Law stipulates that they are not eligible for annual leave or sick leave, so casual employees and contractors are missing out.Instead, they may be able to apply to the federal government Pandemic vacation disaster payment. These payment criteria specifically exclude those who have earned or will receive paid work, or who are eligible for sick or caregiver leave.

Are there any restrictions?

Under the Fair Labor Law The employer has the right to require the employee to provide notice and evidence when taking sick or caregiver leave during annual leave (see below for details).

How does providing illness notification work?

It can be difficult to tell because you don’t know you’re sick until you get sick. Brad Annson, a partner at Gordon Legal and an expert in labor and employment law, says there is no fixed notice period. Rather, the Fair Labor Act only requires employees to notify their employers “as soon as possible”, depending on the situation.

“If someone gets very sick quickly, it can be longer than” as soon as possible “,” says Anson.

“As long as you are on vacation, you have the right to convert your vacation from annual leave to personal leave from the moment you get sick and during the period of your illness, which allows you to take it retroactively.”

The Fair Work website states that the usual rules for taking sick leave apply. Please let your employer know as soon as possible.

What about the employer’s right to demand proof?

Employees are only required to provide evidence if the employer formally requests it, which is stipulated in the employment contract.

This usually means a medical certificate from a doctor or a statutory tax return signed by an employee. This may not be practical if quarantine is legally required during a pandemic.

Requesting a medical certificate is an unwanted burden for the GP in the current crisis, says Dr. Karen Price, President of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.

“The entire healthcare system, especially general practice, is in complete crisis and we need to manage its workload very carefully and protect its resources for people who are ill,” says Price.

“Adding bureaucratic or administrative activity to it would be highly undesirable at this time.”

Price states that people who may be COVID positive should return to quarantine instead of going to a general practitioner’s clinic. You can request a telemedicine appointment if you wish, but your employer should choose to accept another form of evidence, such as a statutory declaration, or trust your employees.

Anson says the Fair Labor Law provides that employers must accept evidence that “reasonable people” would accept. This may include forwarding a text message confirming a positive PCR test result or displaying a photo of a positive rapid antigen test. He points out that employees can follow up on their medical certificate or tax return at a later date at any time.

“Given the prevalence of COVID-19 at this point, we hope our employees don’t have to go through the tedious process of providing evidence,” says Anson.

I’m not sick, but my family is sick. what can I do?

If you need to take care of your immediate family or family, you can take a caregiver’s vacation. Caregiver leave and sick leave technically arise from the same leave qualification pot, also known as personal leave.

Relatives include an individual’s spouse or de facto partner, a child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, or employee or employee’s spouse or de facto partner’s sibling. A spokesperson for Fair Work Ombudsman states that it may include a current or previous spouse or partner, but this depends on the individual situation.

Households include everyone who lives in the same dwelling, not just a direct family member.

I have a close relationship and need to be quarantined, but my family and I are not COVID positive so far. what can I do?

The Fairwork website states that employees in need of quarantine or self-quarantine should contact their employer to discuss vacation options and flexible work styles. This may include annual leave, sick and caregiver leave, unpaid leave, or other paid leave.

The website also states that if an employee cancels an approved annual leave and requests to work in its place, the employer must not unreasonably reject the request.

If you are denied sick leave and cannot work from home, you may be able to take unpaid leave. In this case, government payments may begin.

The Pandemic vacation disaster payment It is intended not only for those who test positive, but also for those who are isolated because of their close relationship. A spokesperson for the National Recovery and Resilience Agency said payments may be available if sick leave is exhausted or needs to be quarantined but is not actually sick and therefore inaccessible to sick leave. I am.

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You cannot claim both federal and state payments, but there are also state-based payments for testing and quarantine. These payments are also generally not available if the worker has already earned income, but the same points about lack of access to sick leave may apply.

Of course, if you are in quarantine and you, your family or relatives get sick afterwards, you can switch to personal vacation from that point on.

What if my employer refuses to change my annual leave to personal leave?

Employees need to insist on that, says Anson. If the employer still refuses to comply, the employee can seek help from the union or the Fair Labor Ombudsman or seek legal advice and take action as necessary.

What if I get COVID during my annual leave?

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