Changes to industry Awards in response to COVID-19

Article By: Joey Tass, Lawyer Cappello Rowe Lawyers Sydney


On 8 April 2020, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) made determinations to vary 99 Awards in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These new measures apply from an employee’s first full pay period on or after 8 April 2020 until 30 June 2020, with the end date subject to extension by the FWC.

The determinations have been achieved by inserting a new temporary schedule into these Awards which provides employees with certain entitlements in relation to pandemic leave and taking of annual leave at half pay.

Unpaid pandemic leave

Eligible employees under the relevant Award are now entitled to take up to two weeks’ unpaid pandemic leave if they are ultimately prevented from working due to:

  • Being required to self-isolate by government or medical authorities, or acting on the advice of a medical practitioner; or
  • Measures taken by government or medical authorities in response to the pandemic.

The leave is available for full-time, part time and casual employees, it does not need to be accrued and employees don’t have to use all their paid leave first prior to accessing the unpaid pandemic leave.


Annual leave

Eligible employees under the relevant Award may take their annual leave at half pay in order to double their time off work, f their employer agrees. The agreement must be recorded in writing.


If you have any queries on how these changes may impact you, please feel free to contact us on 8325 1520 or alternatively email us at