Who is considered a close contact?
In South Australia a ‘close contact’ is defined as:
People with COVID-19 are considered infectious two days before their symptoms started or if they didn’t have any noticeable symptoms, they are considered infectious two days before they had their positive COVID-19 test taken. The infectious period ends 10 days after they had their positive test taken.
Can a Covid positive staff member access personal/carer’s Leave during their period of isolation?
Where an employee is covid positive they are unable to attend work due to an illness.
Full-time & Part-time
Full-time and part-time employees are entitled to use paid personal/carer’s leave for their period of isolation.
For award-based employees such as those under the HIGA, if they have exhausted their personal/carer’s Leave accrual, the employee would be entitled to use unpaid pandemic leave. For non-award-based employees they could agree on taking leave without pay subject to mutual agreement between the employee and employer.
By mutual agreement an employee and employer could also agree on utilising annual leave or long service leave where their personal/carer’s leave is exhausted.
Casual employees will be unable to attend work for the required isolation period, however they are not entitled to paid personal/carer’s Leave. Casual employees employed under one of the Modern Awards such as the HIGA would be able to access unpaid pandemic leave.
Are staff who are close contacts of a Covid positive case entitled to use Personal/Carer’s Leave for their period of quarantine?
The employer is not required to pay personal/carer’s leave to an employee who is a close contact of a positive case.
If an employee is employed under a Modern Award such as the HIGA then they will be able to access unpaid pandemic leave.
Where an employee is able to work from home, the employer would be required to pay the employee their normal ordinary wages.
What happens if an employee becomes ill during their period of quarantine?
If a full-time or part-time employee becomes unwell or injures themselves during a period of quarantine, then they will be able to access paid personal/carer’s leave because they are unfit for work. If their personal/carer’s leave is exhausted, they can access unpaid leave or if employed under a Modern Award such as the HIGA, unpaid pandemic leave.
Employees will need to provide evidence of their illness in line with the normal notice provisions under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) and or respective Modern Award, Enterprise Agreement or Collective Agreement.
Casual employees will not be able to access any paid personal/carer’s leave, however they could access unpaid leave or unpaid pandemic leave if employed under a Modern Award such as the HIGA.
Do employees accrue leave entitlements while they are self-isolating or quarantining?
Where an employee is on any form of paid leave during a period of self-isolation or quarantine, their leave entitlements will continue to accrue.
Where an employee is on a period of unpaid pandemic leave it will not affect any other paid or unpaid leave entitlement and will count as service for the purposes of entitlements under the respective Award and National Employment Standards.
Where an employee is on unpaid leave, and it is not a period of prescribed unpaid pandemic leave then leave entitlements will not accrue during that period.
Are there any government payments that employees can access while they are self-isolating or quarantining?
Subject to eligibility criteria, employees may be able to access the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment.
The Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment provides financial support for those individuals that cannot earn an income because they have to self-isolate or quarantine due to COVID-19 or they are caring for someone that has to self-isolate or quarantine due to Covid-19.
For each 7-day period of self-isolation, quarantine or caring the lump sum payment provides for:
A full day’s work is the hours an individual was scheduled to work or would usually work on a given day. This includes not being able to attend a full time, part time or casual shift of less than 8 hours.
Further information on eligibility criteria and how to claim can be accessed on the Services Australia website at:
Can we utilise the stand down provisions of the Fair Work Act if we are unable to operate the Hotel or a section of the Hotel because we have too many staff either quarantining as close contacts or self-isolating because they are covid positive?
Depending on the circumstances an inability to trade due to a lack of staff due to isolation and quarantine may be sufficient circumstances for an employer to utilise the stand down provisions under Section 524 of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).
A stand down under section 524 of the Fair Work Act will relieve the employer from the need to pay employees where there is a stoppage of work for factors that are beyond the employers control.
Please contact the AHA|SA for further advice on stand down procedures.