Changes to mandatory COVID-19 isolation periods

The rules for mandatory five-day COVID-19 isolation periods are changing in October 2022.

Employers should check for any requirements that may still apply to them. This includes any awards, registered agreements, employment contracts and workplace policies for relevant requirements or other information.

Some may still be required to isolate in some circumstances, for example, workers in high-risk settings such as aged care, disability care, Aboriginal healthcare and hospital care.

Employer directing the employee not to come to work

Employers may be able to direct an employee not to attend the workplace when they’re sick. If this happens, the employee isn’t entitled to be paid unless they take paid sick leave or some other type of paid leave.

Some employers might want an employee not to attend work as a precaution. If an employer tells a full-time or part-time employee not to come to work as a precaution, the employee has to be paid.

Taking sick or carer’s leave

If an employee is sick with COVID-19 or needs to care for a family or household member, they may be able to take paid or unpaid sick or carer’s leave.

Full-time and part-time employees can take paid sick leave if they can’t work because they’re sick with COVID-19. They can also take paid carer’s leave when they need to look after an immediate family or household member who is sick with COVID-19 or has an unexpected emergency.

Casual employees aren’t entitled to paid sick or carer’s leave, and they are paid a casual loading instead of accumulating paid leave entitlements.

Casuals who need to care for an immediate family member or household member who is sick can take two days of unpaid carer’s leave on each occasion. Notice and evidence requirements can apply.

If a casual employee is sick and can’t attend work, they should discuss their options with their employer. This may include staying away until they’re well.

Note: Casual and contract workers in Victoria may be able to access the Victorian Sick Pay Guarantee payment. Employers are not involved in applications or administration of the Sick Pay Guarantee.

Employers are encouraged to support workers to take time off when they are sick or need to care for loved ones.

Astute Business Consultants

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