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The below information is provided to dairy processors around their legal obligations as employers, under different types of employment. It includes:

  • Legal obligations for permanent full time or part time employees
  • Legal obligations for casual employees

This information is designed to enable dairy processors to consider their workforce options and make decisions based on their needs, in accordance with legal requirements. Each business is different, and will approach COVID-19 in their own way, based on their requirements. 

Consider how to best manage your workforce during COVID-19 to protect your team's health and wellbeing. Think about your current and possible future workforce needs should circumstances change. Keeping the lines of communication open with your employees is especially important during challenging and unexpected situations like COVID-19.

Legal obligations for employers - permanent full time or part time employees
(last update: 3/4/2020)

  • Copy Link 1. Employee chooses not to come to work based on personal risk

    No you don’t have to pay them.

    If an employee chooses not to come to work, you do not have to pay them for the time spent away from work.

    See footnotes 1 to 5 below.

  • Copy Link 2. Employee is forced to self-isolate due to close contact

    No you don’t have to pay them.

    Because the self-isolation is imposed by government, you do not have to pay the employee if they are self-isolating due to close contact.

    Employees who are self-isolating due to close contact should be encouraged to report to their employer daily in case they begin to exhibit symptoms.

    Check the Australian Government advice relating to self-isolation and factsheet.

    From 8 April 2020 award employees are entitled to take up to 2 weeks’ unpaid pandemic leave. This leave must commence before 30 June 2020. Notice and evidence requirements apply. Go to Schedule X of the Food Beverage and Tobacco Manufacturing Award 2010.

    See footnotes 1 to 6 below.

  • Copy Link 3. When employee is sick

    Employees can access accrued personal/carer’s leave.

    If an employee contracts COVID19 they would be entitled to utilise their accrued personal/carer’s leave (sick leave). 

    From 8 April 2020 award employees are entitled to take up to 2 weeks’ unpaid pandemic leave. This leave must commence before 30 June 2020.  Notice and evidence requirements apply.  Go to Schedule X of the Food Beverage and Tobacco Manufacturing Award 2010.

    You can ask for a medical certificate as evidence of the need for the leave.

    If you have an Enterprise Agreement you should check to see if there are any additional entitlements and/or requirements for the provision of evidence of the need for sick leave.

    If employees have used all of their personal/carer’s leave, see footnotes 1 to 6 below.

    Remember - you cannot terminate an employee’s employment due to temporary absence for illness.

    Anti-discrimination laws also apply.

  • Copy Link 4. Employee is well, employer wants them to stay away from work

    Yes, you need to pay them.

    You are legally entitled to direct employees to stay away from work if the employer has concerns, but employee is not required by the government to self-isolate.

    Refer to #2 for more information about self-isolation.

  • Copy Link 5. Employee stays home to care for a child/relative who is sick and self-isolating

    Employees can access personal/carer’s leave.

    Employees who are required to care for a family / household member who is sick can use their accrued personal/carer’s leave.

    If this is exhausted, employees can access:

    • a further 2 days’ unpaid personal/carer’s leave per occasion.
    • 2 days’ paid compassionate leave per occasion if a family member or member of their household contracts a serious illness which poses a threat to their life.

    From 8 April 2020 award employees are entitled to take up to 2 weeks’ unpaid pandemic leave. This leave must commence before 30 June 2020. Notice and evidence requirements apply. Go to Schedule X of the Food Beverage and Tobacco Manufacturing Award 2010.

    You can ask for a medical certificate as evidence of the need for the leave.

    If you have an Enterprise Agreement you should check to see if there are any additional entitlements and/or requirements for the provision of evidence of the need for personal/carer’s leave and compassionate leave.

    If employees have used all of their personal/carer’s leave, see footnotes 1 to 5 below.

  • Copy Link 6. Employee is well, stays home to care for a child who can’t attend school

    Employees can access personal/carer’s leave.

    Employees who are required to provide care or support for a family / household member due to an “unexpected emergency” can use their accrued personal/carer’s leave.

    If this is exhausted employees can access a further 2 days’ unpaid personal/carer’s leave per occasion.

    COVID19 would be regarded as an “unexpected emergency”.

    If employees have used all of their personal/carer’s leave, see footnotes 1 to 5 below.

    If you have an Enterprise Agreement you should check to see if there are any additional entitlements and/or requirements for the provision of evidence of the need for personal/carer’s leave.

  • Copy Link Footnotes

    1. You could consider allowing employees to use their accrued annual leave.
    2. Employers cannot unreasonably refuse to agree to a request by an employee to take paid annual leave.
    3. COVID19 would be regarded as a reasonable reason to access annual leave.
    4. You could consider allowing employees to take annual leave in advance if they do not have sufficient accrued annual leave.
    5. You could also consider allowing employees to take Long service leave - laws vary from state to state. Check your relevant state government websites at The People in Dairy and refer to table at the bottom of this page.
    6. Reminder - accurate record keeping will be important. Visit The People in Dairy to access leave templates you can use in your farm business.
    7. From 8 April 2020 employers and award employees can agree in writing that the employee take annual leave at half pay. This leave must commence before 30 June 2020.  Go to Schedule X of the Food Beverage and Tobacco Manufacturing Award 2010 for further details.

  • Copy Link 1. Choose not to come to work based on personal risk

    If a casual employee chooses not to come to work, you do not have to pay them for the time spent away from work.

    Casual employees are paid a loading to compensate them for entitlements such as annual leave and personal leave (sick leave).

    See footnotes 1 to 2 below.

  • Copy Link 2. Employees are forced to self-isolate due to close contact

    No you don’t have to pay them.

    Casual employees are paid a loading to compensate them for entitlements such as personal leave (sick leave).

    Check the Australian Government advice relating to self-isolation and factsheet.

    From 8 April 2020 award employees are entitled to take up to 2 weeks’ unpaid pandemic leave. This leave must commence before 30 June 2020. Notice and evidence requirements apply. Go to Schedule X of the Food Beverage and Tobacco Manufacturing Award 2010.

    See footnotes 1 and 2 below.

  • Copy Link 3. When employees are sick

    No you don’t have to pay them.

    Casual employees are paid a loading to compensate them for entitlements such as personal leave (sick leave).

    From 8 April 2020 award employees are entitled to take up to 2 weeks’ unpaid pandemic leave. This leave must commence before 30 June 2020.  Notice and evidence requirements apply. Go to Schedule X of the Food Beverage and Tobacco Manufacturing Award 2010.

    Remember - you cannot terminate an employee’s employment due to temporary absence for illness.

    Anti-discrimination laws also apply.

    If you have an Enterprise Agreement you should check to see if there are any additional entitlements and/or requirements for the provision of evidence of the need for sick leave.

    See footnotes 1 and 2 below.

  • Copy Link 4. Employee is well, employer wants them to stay away from work

    Yes, you need to pay them.

    You are legally entitled to direct employees to stay away from work if the employer has concerns, but employee is not required by the government to self-isolate.

    Refer to #2 for more information about self-isolation.

  • Copy Link 5. Employee stays home to care for a child/relative who is sick and self-isolating

    No you don’t have to pay them

    Casual employees are paid a loading to compensate them for entitlements such as personal leave (sick leave).

    Casual employees who are required to provide care or support for a family / household member due to an “unexpected emergency” can access a 2 days’ unpaid personal/carer’s leave per occasion.

    COVID19 would be regarded as an “unexpected emergency”.

    Casual employees can also access 2 days’ unpaid compassionate leave per occasion if the family member or member of their household contracts a serious illness which poses a threat to their life.

    From 8 April 2020 award employees are entitled to take up to 2 weeks’ unpaid pandemic leave. This leave must commence before 30 June 2020.  Notice and evidence requirements apply. Go to Schedule X of the Food Beverage and Tobacco Manufacturing Award 2010.

    You are entitled to ask for a medical certificate as evidence of the need for the leave.

    If you have an Enterprise Agreement you should check to see if there are any additional entitlements and/or requirements for the provision of evidence of the need for personal/carer's leave.

    See footnotes 1 to 2 below.

  • Copy Link 6. Employee is well, stays home to care for a child who can’t attend school

    No you don’t have to pay them.

    Casual employees are paid a loading to compensate them for entitlements such as personal leave (sick leave).

    Casual employees who are required to provide care or support for a family / household member due to an “unexpected emergency” can access 2 days’ unpaid personal/carer’s leave per occasion.

    COVID-19 would be regarded as an “unexpected emergency”.

    If you have an Enterprise Agreement you should check to see if there are any additional entitlements and/or requirements for the provision of evidence of the need for personal/carer's leave.

    See footnotes 1 to 2 below.

  • Copy Link Footnotes

    1. The government has indicated that it will allow easy access to government benefits for casual employees who cannot attend work – visit Services Australia for more information.
    2. Reminder - accurate record keeping will be important. Visit The People in Dairy to access leave templates you can use in your farm business

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