How to Access the Government’s Pandemic Leave

How to Access the Government’s Pandemic Leave
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‘Pandemic leave’ will now be available to any Victorian ordered to self-isolate but who does not have paid sick leave available. While only Victorians can access it for now, the Prime Minister has confirmed those affected in other states and territories may soon be eligible for the scheme as well.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced it would be providing those with coronavirus a one-off $1,500 payment to cover the fortnight they need to self-isolate for.

“This pandemic is a disaster and we need a disaster payment when it comes for people who have to isolate for a period of 14 days through no fault of their own, regardless of what job they’re in or employment they’re in,” Morrison said during a press conference on 3 August.

“What we’ll be putting in place is for those who have no more sick leave available to them, that they will be eligible for a $1,500 payment for the fortnight.”

Who’s eligible for pandemic leave?

The pandemic leave scheme, according to Morrison, will work in a similar way to the bushfire disaster payments earlier in 2020 that provided affected households with emergency payments.

To be eligible, you’ll need to first have one of the following reasons:

  • you have coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • you’ve been in close contact with a person who has COVID-19
  • you care for a child, 16 years or under, who has COVID-19
  • you care for a child, 16 years or under, who’s been in close contact with a person who has COVID-19

If that applies, you’ll then need to also meet the criteria:

  • you’re at least 17 years old
  • you live in the state of Victoria
  • you are unable to work
  • you have no sick leave entitlements, including pandemic sick leave

You’ll also need to ensure you’re not already receiving any of the following:

  • any income, earnings or salary from paid work
  • any income support payments, ABSTUDY Living Allowance, Paid Parental Leave or Dad and Partner Pay
  • JobKeeper payment
  • the Victorian Coronavirus (COVID-19) Worker Support Payment

It’s also possible to receive the payment twice if you’re again required to stay home for a second 14-day isolation period. If you’re in a couple, both partners can also receive the payment but will need to complete separate claims.

“People can actually access the payment multiple times if, unfortunately, they’re in a position where they have to self-isolate as a direct requirement on multiple times and hopefully, that won’t be too often,” Morrison said.

“Hopefully, people will only have to go through that on the single occasion, but we know that isn’t always the case.”

While Morrison said the payment would be made available until the state of disaster ended in Victoria, Services Australia has provided a firm end date — 4 February 2021.

While it was initially intended for just Victoria, Morrison confirmed on 5 August that the government was willing to extend the those in other states and territories if agreements were made with local governments.

“If other states or territories want to enter into a similar arrangement, then I’ll be making that offer to the states and territories if they wish to do that,” Morrison said on Sunrise on Wednesday.

“Of course, they are not facing the same level of challenge. The health advice we had out of Victoria was to do this.”

How do I apply for it?

In order to apply for a pandemic leave payment, you will need to call 180 22 66 from Wednesday 5 August or call 131 202 for language support other than English.

According to the ABC, the social services minister Anne Ruston has confirmed a 100-point ID check will be required in order for the payment to be approved.

Morrison has said the turnover will be quite quick and will mean anyone economically affected by a self-isolation order will have this scheme as a safety net.

This article was originally published on 4 August 2020 but has been updated with the most up-to-date information.

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