Your rights and responsibilities

< Back to COVID-19 Homepage

Private Sector and Aged Care

Last updated 3 August 2020.

Please note the advice provided on these pages is intended as general advice. If you have specific concerns, please contact the Duty Officer to discuss your particular circumstances by email Duty.Roster@anmfsa.org.au

Additional information can be found at the Fair Work Ombudsman website. 

A. This will depend on the reason that you were sent home.

If you are sent home from work to self-isolate to avoid a risk of contaminating others, then you are serving your employer during this time, even if you are not working. Where an employer directs a full-time or part-time employee not to work, the employee would ordinarily be entitled to be paid while subject to the direction. That entitlement “to be paid’ while directed not to work, is an entitlement “to be paid’ without reduction of any leave balance.

Casual employees are not entitled to be paid. The ANMF, along with other Trade Unions, is calling on the Federal Government to provide financial support for all workers impacted by COVID-19.

Source:

If you are sent home from work to avoid social contact, then you should make arrangements to work from home (if possible). If that is not possible, then you are following a direction from your employer and as such are serving your employer during the time that you are home. As above, a full-time or part-time employee would ordinarily be entitled to be paid while subject to the direction. Casual employees are not entitled to be paid.

If you are sent home from work because you cannot be usefully employed (there is no work for you to do) because of COVID-19, then your employer may stand you down, with or without pay. If you are stood down without pay, you may be able to access accrued annual leave entitlements. Some enterprise agreements in the private acute sector permit the employer to direct an employee to take annual leave where the hospital is at low occupancy or low activity, or during periods of shutdown. If you experience the above, please contact the ANMF (SA Branch) Duty Officer on 8334 1900 to get further advice.

A: The Federal Government's current policy, outlines that all overseas travellers returning to Australia will have to be quarantined for a period of 14 days at a location determined by the Government.

The South Australian Government maintains a list of current travel restrictions on its website available here.

Requirements to self isolate depend on which state or territory you are entering from, and whether you are considered an essential traveller.

 

There are very limited exceptions for essential travellers entering or returning to South Australia.

Employees should contact their employer immediately if they are unable to attend work because they have returned from overseas or interstate and are required to enter quarantine or to self-isolate.

In the first instance, we would encourage members to discuss working from home options with their manager. If working from home is not practicable, then members can apply to use any paid leave entitlements they may have accrued.

If an employee cannot work because they are subject to a government order requiring them to self-quarantine, the employee is not ordinarily entitled to be paid (unless they use leave entitlements). In this case, their inability to work is because of a government order, not because of their employer. Members should consider whether their entitlements may be impacted by any applicable enterprise agreement, employment contract or workplace policies, which may be more generous.

The ANMF, along with the Australian Council of Trade Unions, are calling on the Federal Government to provide financial support for all workers impacted by COVID-19.

A. Whether you can be directed to undertake different duties will depend on your employment contract and what has been agreed to in terms of the scope of your duties.

For example, if you were employed as a Nurse Educator, but your contract or job specification includes, ‘providing clinical nursing care’, then you could be directed to perform clinical nursing duties.

If your employer is receiving JobKeeper, they have the power to unilaterally direct you to undertake different duties to those which you usually undertake, however the direction must meet certain conditions, including that it is reasonable and necessary to continue employment, and the employer provides 3 days written notice.

If you experience the above, please contact the ANMF (SA Branch) Duty Officer on 8334 1900 for further advice.

A: In the first instance, we would encourage these other staff to explore options with their employer for working from home. These staff who have been sent home are serving their employer during that time at home, even if they are not working. Where an employer directs a full-time or part-time employee not to work, the employee would ordinarily be entitled to be paid while subject to the direction. That entitlement “to be paid’ while directed not to work, is an entitlement “to be paid’ without reduction of any leave balance.

Casual employees are not entitled to be paid. The ANMF, along with other Trade Unions, are calling on the Federal Government to provide financial support for all workers impacted by COVID-19. View the media release here.

Source:

A: A casual employee is entitled to accept or reject offered shifts at will. There is no obligation for a casual employee to accept a shift.

However, it is recommended that you discuss your personal circumstances with your employer to explore any options for being rostered in a different ward or worksite, so as to avoid a reduction in your income.

A. An employer has an obligation to make sure everyone at work is safe, so they can ask for a medical clearance where it is reasonable. In the case of COVID-19 concerns, this will depend on the circumstances, but should really only be in a situation where:

  • A worker may have been exposed to a confirmed case of coronavirus; or
  • A worker may have travelled, transited or left a specific country as per above.

A. Private sector employers cannot direct an employee to take annual leave unless the relevant enterprise agreement or modern award permits such a direction. Some enterprise agreements in the private acute sector permit the employer to direct an employee to take annual leave where the hospital is at low occupancy or low activity, or during periods of shutdown. If your employer is receiving JobKeeper, they can ask an employee to take a period of annual leave, as long as doing so will not reduce their balance of paid annual leave to less than two weeks, and employees cannot unreasonably refuse such a request.

If you experience the above, please contact the ANMF (SA Branch) Duty Officer on 8334 1900 to get further advice.

A. Employers should take positive steps to assist workers to manage any increased family responsibilities arising from COVID-19.

You can request for flexible working arrangements if you are responsible for caring for a sick child or adult, or a person with disability or a person who is frail and aged. Your employer must discuss and genuinely consider your request and only refuse on reasonable business grounds which will include a consideration of the operational needs of the workplace. A written response should be provided to you.

A. Workers who contract COVID-19 in the course of their employment may be able to claim workers' compensation benefits for any time lost or medical care required.

However, it may be challenging to prove that work was the significant contributing cause of the injury in light of the growing number of community infections. You should contact the Duty Officer for assistance if you are unable to work due to contracting COVID-19 at work.

A. The South Australian Government’s State Coordinator’s current Direction provides that all persons entering South Australian must self-quarantine for a period of 14 days at a suitable location.

In the first instance, we would encourage members to discuss working from home options with their manager. If working from home is not practicable, then members can apply to use any paid leave entitlements they may have accrued.

A. Members with pre-existing health conditions or concerns, or are aged over 65 years are encouraged to have a discussion with their line manager in the first instance to negotiate suitable work arrangements including location and/or duties.

The Fair Work Act 2009 allows employers to stand employees down without pay in certain circumstances when employees cannot be usefully employed.

If you and/or your colleagues are stood down, you should contact our Duty Officer by emailing Duty.Roster@anmfsa.org.au immediately.

There are several alternatives to standing down staff, which employers should also explore. These include:

  • access to accrued paid leave (e.g. annual leave);
  • negotiating with employees to change rosters or hours of work (by agreement only); and
  • transfer to other sites and flexible working arrangements, such as working from home.

The effect of a stand-down is that you remain employed, although you are not required to perform work and you are not paid during the period of the stand-down. However, you continue to accrue annual leave and personal leave entitlements while you are stood down.

For more information visit the -Fair Work Ombudsman website.

A. The JobKeeper scheme is a government wage subsidy for employers that are experiencing a significant downturn because of COVID-19. Whether you can access a JobKeeper payment will depend firstly on whether your employer qualifies for the scheme or not.

Employers are eligible for the JobKeeper payment if all of the following apply:

  • On 1 March 2020, they carried on a business in Australia, or were either a not-for-profit organisation.
  • They employed at least one eligible employee on 1 March 2020.
  • Their business has faced either a
  • 30% fall in turnover (for an aggregated turnover of $1 billion or less)
  • 50% fall in turnover (for an aggregated turnover of more than $1 billion)
  • 15% fall in turnover (for ACNC-registered charities other than universities and schools).

 

You can find up to date details about the eligibility criteria for employers, on the ATO Jobkeeper payment – Eligible employers page.

Employees are eligible for the Jobkeeper if:

  • Were employed by an eligible employer at 1 March 2020.
  • Can be sole traders, full-time, part-time, or long-term casuals employed on a regular basis for longer than 12 months as at 1 March 2020.
  • were aged 18 years or older at 1 March 2020 (if you were 16 or 17 you can also qualify for fortnights before 11 May 2020, and continue to qualify after that if you are independent or not undertaking full time study)Are at least 16 years of age.
  • Are an Australian citizen, the holder of a permanent visa, a protected special category visa, a non-protected special category visa who has been residing continually in Australia for 10 years or more, or a New Zealander on a special category (subclass 444) visa.
    • If your employer does qualify, they must register with the Australian Tax Office and nominate the employees for whom they wish to claim the wages subsidy. In order to be nominated, your employer would need to ask you to complete a JobKeeper Employee Nomination Form.

       

      Please contact the Duty Officer if you require further advice on accessing the JobKeeper payment.

      You can find up to date details about the eligibility criteria for employees, on the ATO Jobkeeper payment – Eligible employees page.

       

A. The Fair Work Act was amended to support the implementation and operation of the JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme (JobKeeper scheme) in Australian workplaces.

 

The new provisions enable employers who qualify for the JobKeeper scheme, and who are entitled to JobKeeper payments for their employees, to give directions called ‘JobKeeper enabling directions’. In certain circumstances, this means that employers can temporarily:

  • stand down an employee (including by reducing their hours or days of work)
  • change an employee’s usual duties.
  • change an employee’s location of work.

The new provisions also enable employers who qualify for the JobKeeper scheme, and who are entitled to JobKeeper payments for their employees, to make agreements with their employees to change their days and times of work and take annual leave in certain circumstances.

These changes are temporary and will end on 28 September 2020. When this happens, any directions or agreements made under them will also end. Employees’ terms and conditions will revert back to what they were without the directions or agreements in place.

Qualifying employers can only give JobKeeper enabling directions or make agreements under the Fair Work Act JobKeeper provisions for the time that they’re claiming the JobKeeper payment for an eligible employee.

A. For permanent employees:

  • If your employer qualifies for the JobKeeper scheme and is entitled to payments for their employees, then your employer may issue a ‘JobKeeper enabling direction’. These include standing you down, reducing your normal hours or days of work, changing your usual duties, or changing your location of work. You may also be asked to take annual leave.
  • If your employer does not qualify for the Jobkeeper scheme, if you are not required in your usual area of work, your employer may direct you to perform alternative duties. The direction to undertake alternative duties must be reasonable in the circumstances, taking into account whether you are provided with appropriate orientation and relevant training, and the nature and scope of your substantive role.
  • If you are not required because there is no meaningful work for you to do:
    • you cannot be forced to take Leave Without Pay, Long Service Leave or Personal/Carer’s leave;
    • you may only be directed to access leave if your enterprise agreement provides for it, or if you have an excessive leave balance. If your employer is participating in the JobKeeper scheme, you may be requested to take annual leave and cannot unreasonably refuse.
  • You may, however, choose to access any accrued leave by applying in the usual manner.
  • You must be paid your contracted hours unless you access any leave without pay.
  • You may agree with your employer to temporarily change your hours or days of work. Any agreement should be recorded in writing, including the end date of any agreement.

For casual employees:

  • If your employer qualifies for the JobKeeper scheme, casual employees with at least 12 months service are entitled to be paid the JobKeeper payment.
  • If your employer does not qualify for the JobKeeper scheme because your employer has signed a partnership agreement with the Government to provide health services to assist with the COVID-19 pandemic, we understand that casual employees are entitled to be paid in accordance with those agreements.

A. If you have been tested for COVID-19 because you are unwell, you may use your Personal/Carer’s leave. Your employer may require you to provide a medical certificate to support the taking of this leave.

If you were tested for COVID-19 for another reason, and are otherwise fit for work, you may be entitled to claim unpaid pandemic leave under your modern Award (Nurses Award 2010 or Aged Care Award 2010). This leave was only very recently introduced to modern Awards. It provides for up to 2 weeks unpaid leave if you are required by the government or medical authorities, or on the advice of a medical practitioner, to self-isolate and consequently are prevented from working. If you are covered by an enterprise agreement, please contact the Duty Officer for further advice.

A. The recent provision of Pandemic Leave for nurses and carers working in aged care does not apply if you are covered by an Enterprise Agreement – nevertheless the Enterprise Agreement provides minimums and there is nothing to prevent your employer from providing equivalent leave. We are aware that some providers have already made this commitment to their employees and are working closely with the aged care provider peak bodies to extend this entitlement to all people working in aged care.

We note the recent announcement from the Federal Government indicating that they will provide payment of $1500 per fortnight for workers to take pandemic leave. Whilst this is in the right direction, we along with other unions (through the ACTU), are continuing to advocate that the standard provided for aged care workers covered by Awards, apply for all workers, and specifically for all workers in aged care.

A. If an employee is sick and has an entitlement to paid leave, this should be taken first, before you can access paid pandemic leave.

Where an employee is diagnosed with COVID-19, and the employee becomes entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, the leave entitlement will cease to apply.

It is also a requirement that the relevant employee has agreed to undertake a COVID-19 test at the earliest opportunity.

Where the self-isolation results from the advice of a medical practitioner (as distinct from a requirement of the employer or a government medical authority), it will be necessary for a medical certificate to be produced.

A. Requirements from employers that you only work for them and only in one site, is being driven by concern about spreading of COVID-19 in aged care. We are seeking that where this is necessary to implement, employees are not financially disadvantaged. This is a matter that we are advocating on your behalf with peak bodies. We encourage affected members to discuss with your manager what they plan to do in terms of mitigating the loss of any shifts or hours and contact the Duty Officer to seek advice by email Duty.Roster@anmfsa.org.au.

We have welcomed and acknowledged the guidelines in Victoria that helps to protect aged care workers who work at multiple sites, ensuring they do not face financial burden while protecting the community.