On 8 April 2020, the Fair Work Commission made the decision to insert a new schedule, Schedule X, into 99 modern awards. 

Schedule X provides employees with an entitlement to unpaid pandemic leave and the flexibility to take double the amount of annual leave at half pay.

This COVID-19 update provides employers with an overview of the key points of Schedule X.

Awards that include Schedule X – unpaid pandemic leave

Click here to view the 99 Awards that now contain Schedule X (see Affected Awards) 

What Awards exclude Schedule X?

The Awards relevant to Construction, Maritime and Mining resource sectors were excluded because:

  • businesses in these sectors have not been adversely impacted at this time
  • these industries do not have a high level of award-reliance. Enterprise agreements are common place.

Overview of Schedule X - Unpaid pandemic leave:

  • Employees can access up to 2 weeks’ unpaid pandemic leave
  • If agreed between the employer and employee, an employee may take more than 2 weeks unpaid pandemic leave if they are prevented from working because:
    • the employee(s) is required to self-isolate by government or medical authorities or acting on advice of their medical practitioner
    • the government or medical authorities impose an enforceable government direction for non-essential businesses to shut down.
  • 2 weeks’ unpaid pandemic leave is available now to permanent employees (full-time and part-time). The leave is not accrued by the employee and it is not on a pro-rata basis for part-time employees
  • Leave must start before 30 June 2020. However, the leave may end after 30 June 2020
  • Unpaid pandemic leave does not affect any other paid or unpaid leave entitlements. Employees can access unpaid pandemic leave even if they have not used all of their paid leave entitlements
  • Unpaid pandemic leave counts as service for the purposes of entitlements under the Award and the National Employment Standards.

Overview of Schedule X - Annual leave at half pay:

  • The employer and the employee may agree for the employee to take twice as much annual leave (For example, 2 weeks leave for 1 week’s full pay)
  • The period of annual leave at half pay must commence before 30 June 2020 but it may end after that date
  • The period of annual leave at half pay must be recorded in writing and retained on the employee’s file.

Example

Jack and his employer have agreed in writing (by email) that Jack will take 6 week’s annual leave at half pay in May 2020. Three (3) weeks of annual leave will be deducted from Jack’s annual leave accrual balance. Jack’s employer keeps a record of the email on Jack’s employment file.

Jack’s employer agrees to pay Jack, 3 week’s full pay plus 17.5% annual leave loading as Jack is entitled to annual leave loading under the terms and conditions of his employment and the relevant award. 

Jack and his employer have also agreed that Jack receive an annual leave payment each fortnightly pay period rather than in one lump sum payment.  Jack’s employer pays Jack,  1 week’s full pay plus 17.5% leave loading each fortnightly pay period during the 6-week period that Jack is on annual leave at half pay.

Source – Fair Work Commission - Summary of Decision AM2020-12 – s157 FWC own motion – 8 April 2020

For further information on unpaid pandemic leave in awards

Fair Work Ombudsman website – Coronavirus and Australia workplace laws 

These are tough times.  Ulton is here for you.

If you require assistance please contact our HR Consultant, Christine Guy direct on (07) 4154 0413 or mobile 0407 588 194 or email cguy@ulton.net

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