COVID-19: Pandemic leave and payments as at 22 July 2021
Recent COVID-19 outbreaks across Australia have again highlighted the inadequacy of the Morrison Government’s responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and its continuing failure to look after Australian workers. The Commonwealth Government’s JobKeeper program ended on 28 March 2021, removing a vital support for workers. Below are the currently available support measures available to workers who have been affected by the recent COVID-19 outbreaks in NSW.
It is important to note that a number of workers are entitled to unpaid pandemic leave through their relevant Modern Award. In March of 2021, the paid pandemic leave provisions operating in a number of health care sector awards (including the Aged Care Award 2010) expired.
Here’s what is currently available for workers, including eligibility and how to apply:
Commonwealth Provided (all states)
Covid-19 Disaster Payment
COVID-19 Disaster Payment – Payment varies based on location and hours of work lost. For the period prior to 15 July in the first areas of Sydney to go into lockdown and 18 July for Greater Sydney and NSW you can receive $325 for each week in which you lost less than 20 hours work or $500 for each week you lost more than 20 hours of work. After those dates in NSW and from 23 July in Victoria, you will be able claim $375 for each week in which you lost less than 20 hours work or $600 for each week you lost more than 20 hours of work. Payments are made in arrears for the previous week. Check website for other states as information is updated.
The general eligibility requirements for the payment are:
- Live, work or have visited a Commonwealth declared COVID-19 hotspot.
- Are in paid employment and cannot attend work and lost income during a recognised COVID-19 ‘event’
- Have no entitlement to relevant paid leave (pandemic leave) or have exhausted their entitlement. • are an Australian resident or hold an eligible working visa;
- are aged 17 years or older; and
- The liquid assets test does not apply to this payment, but this waiver is applied event by event so it may apply to future version of the payment.
Workers cannot receive payment if they are receiving any income support payment or the Pandemic Leave disaster Payment for the same period; Each State affected also has specific rules for eligibility, which outline the specific areas of the state in which you must work, reside or have visited in order to be eligible for payment and the dates for which you are eligible to claim. New sections are added as lockdowns begin in new states. The current rules can be found at: Victoria, NSW, SA. Claims for each week of lockdown open and close at their own individual times, which are available on the Services Australia Website. Claims for the first week of Sydney lockdown close on 28 July and are the first to close. Claims then close 7 days later for the second week and so on for each subsequent week. If you claim for a single week, you will have the option of receiving automatic payments for future weeks. If you do this and you later go back to work you MUST notify Services Australia.
How to apply:
Via a MyGov Account linked to Centrelink. Visa holders can claim by telephone.
Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment
$1,500 for each 14- day period of self-isolation, quarantine or care.
For workers who:
- Cannot earn income due to a requirement to self-isolate or quarantine because you have COVID-19 or have been a close contact of someone who does (having been directed by a health official) or are caring for a child who has COVID-19 or is a close contact of someone who does (note: in these circumstances a 14 day quarantine/self-isolation period would be required).
- Are aged above 17 years old;
- Live in a state or territory;
- Are Australian residents or hold an eligible working visa;
- Have no entitlement to relevant paid leave or have exhausted their entitlement.
Eligibility periods differ between states and territories (i.e. in Victoria, the period of quarantine must be after July 5 2020, in NSW after 17 September 2020).
Workers cannot receive payment if, during the quarantine/self-isolation period, they have received any income, income support, or payments such as the: (no longer available) JobKeeper, the (no longer available) Victorian Coronavirus (COVID-19) Worker Support Payment or the Queensland Hardship Payment.
How to apply:
Via telephone (by calling 180 22 66).
Or by completing a form (which is different in each state):
New South Wales Provided
Support for Sole Traders (COVID-19 Micro Business Grants)
Co-funded with Commonwealth. $1500 per fortnight.
To be eligible for this payment, a business or sole trader must have:
- A turnover between $30k and $75k
- A revenue decline of 30% or more due to the NSW lockdown
- Businesses that provide the primary income source for a person associated with the business.
How to apply:
Register your interest with Services NSW
Support for Sole Traders (Jobsaver)
Co-funded with Commonwealth.
Non-employing business: $1,000 per week (also available to employing businesses at a higher rate).
Eligible businesses must have:
- A revenue decline of 30% or more
- Turnover between $75,000 and $50 million
The NSW government has indicated that employing businesses will be required to commit to maintaining their employment levels to receive this payment, but this requirement doesn’t apply to sole traders.
How to apply: