Amid a worldwide health epidemic, Australian’s are joking that they “wouldn’t mind a couple of weeks off work” in relation to the quarantine period for individual suspected of being infected by the Covid-19 virus. Many Australian employers are now having to manage the impact on their business of staff members being quarantined or having to self-isolate.

What do you do if an employee gets sick or has to self-isolate?

The Australian Government Department of Health have said that staff cannot attend work if they have:

  • Left or travelled through mainland China in the last 14 days
  • Left or travelled through Iran on or after 1st March
  • Been in close contact with a confirmed case of Coronavirus (Covid-19)

In addition, staff must remain in self-isolation for 14 days and until cleared of the virus.

The Fair Work Act does not have specific rules about what staff get paid if affected by a pandemic virus. This means that employers and employees need to come to their own arrangements. The FairWork Ombudsman has said, “arrangements may include:

  • Taking personal leave, or taking a combination of personal and annual leave, if the employee is sick
  • Taking annual leave if the employee is not sick but has to self-isolate
  • Taking any other leave available which has been accumulated, such as long service leave or any leave available under an award, enterprise agreement of contract of employment.
  • Taking any other paid or unpaid leave by agreement between the employee and the employer. “

If you would like to discuss this or any other HR issue, please call us 08 9316 9896, or email


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