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COVID-19 Hard Lockdown

Working from home, JobKeeper Payment, paid leave, and unfair dismissal - things you need to be aware of during a COVID-19 hard lockdown.

Disclaimer

This infosheet contains information of a general nature only and is not a substitute for professional legal advice. You should obtain legal advice from a lawyer about your particular situation before acting on any of the following information. This infosheet is designed for Victorian and national system employees in Tasmania and Queensland only. If you are not a Victorian employee or a Queensland or Tasmanian national system employee, you should obtain specialist legal advice about your case as soon as possible.

This fact sheet was accurate as of July 2020.

Important information

  1. Communicate with your employer regularly and openly.
  2. Keep an eye on government assistance available to people under lockdown:
  3. Contact JobWatch or your local Community Legal Centre for further employment law information.

Working from home

If you are already working from home, there is no reason this cannot continue during a hard lockdown.

If you are not working from home but it is possible for you to do so, ask your employer about it. Current Victorian Government directions require employees to work from home if possible. A direction from an employer requiring an employee to attend the workplace where it is possible to work from home may not be lawful or reasonable.

If you can’t work from home

JobKeeper

If your employer is receiving the JobKeeper wage subsidy for you, they must continue to pay you at least $1500 per fortnight while you remain employed, even if you cannot attend work during lockdown.

The Fair Work Commission can help with disputes about JobKeeper – to apply use this form. For information about JobKeeper, see: JobWatch JobKeeper Q&A.

Paid leave

In general, permanent employees are entitled to a minimum of 4 weeks per year of annual leave. If you have accrued annual leave, consider asking your employer to allow you to take it during lockdown. Employers may not unreasonably refuse a request from an employee to take annual leave.
Employees covered by many modern awards may take annual leave at half pay. See: FWO: changes to annual leave.

In general, paid personal leave (“sick leave”) is available when a permanent employee is unfit for work because of personal illness, or an unexpected emergency affecting a family member. It is unlikely that a lockdown would meet these criteria.

Casual employees are not entitled to annual leave or sick leave.

Other circumstances

In general, if an employer lawfully and reasonably directs an employee to attend work, and the employee cannot do so, and is not entitled to paid leave or JobKeeper, their employer is not obliged to pay their wages.

Employees covered by many modern awards are entitled to two weeks of unpaid pandemic leave. See: FWO unpaid pandemic leave

Other employees may request unpaid leave.

Unfair dismissal

If you are sacked from your employment because of being locked down, consider making an unfair dismissal claim. Eligibility requirements and a strict 21-day time-limit apply.

For further support

Call our Telephone Information Service on Melbourne Metro (03) 9662 1933 or Regional Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania on 1800 331 617.

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