Schedule X – unpaid pandemic leave was provided for in 99 modern Awards in 2020, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The expiry date of Schedule X has been extended to 30 June 2022, but only for some Awards. Not all Awards.

Here is the link to the Fair Work Ombudsman’s website to check whether your modern Award provides for unpaid pandemic leave

Schedule X provides for up to 2 weeks of unpaid pandemic leave (or more, if agreed between an employer and employee) if an employee is unable to work because:

  • They are required to self-isolate by the government or medical authorities, or acting on advice of a medical practitioner; or
  • Adhering to measures put in place by the government or medical authorities in response to the pandemic.

What to do if an employee requests unpaid pandemic leave?

  • Review the applicable Award to make sure Schedule X applies and that the expiry date is current.
  • If Schedule X - unpaid pandemic leave does not apply, explain why and talk with the employee about the other forms of leave the employee may be entitled to (personal/carer’s leave, annual leave, or an agreed period of unpaid leave if all paid leave entitlements have been exhausted).

What do employers need to know about Schedule X?

  • Unpaid pandemic leave is available immediately to employees if provided for in the relevant Award.
  • Annual leave and personal/carer’s leave don’t need to be exhausted before unpaid pandemic leave can be used.
  • Any period of unpaid pandemic leave must commence before the expiry date of Schedule X. However, the period of leave can run after the expiry date of Schedule X.
  • An employee must notify their employer, as soon as they can, of their intention to take unpaid pandemic leave and for what reason.
  • Employers may request a medical certificate, positive PCR or RAT test in support of the employee’s leave request.
  • Unpaid pandemic leave does not break an employee’s period of service.
  • Under Schedule X ,an employer may not terminate or take adverse action against an employee for exercising the entitlement.

If you have any questions about an employee's entitlement to unpaid pandemic leave, reach out to a trusted Ulton Advisor or contact our Human Resources Consultant, Christine Guy today

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