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COVID 19 - Self-Isolating & Government Support

What happens if you or your staff must self isolate with Covid 19?

With Omicron numbers predicted to rise over the coming weeks and months it is likely more people will be required to self-isolate.

So we have put together this summary to assist employers and self-employed people with managing self-isolation in the workforce and outline what government assistance is available.

What are the current rules around isolation?

The current (phase one) isolation requirements are:

  • If a person tests positive for COVID-19 they will be required to isolate at home for at least 14 days while they recover and they must be symptom-free for 72 hours before being released.
  • Household members of a positive case are considered a “close contact” and must be in isolation from the beginning of the positive case’s isolation period and remain in isolation for at least a further 10 days after the positive case has been released.
  • If someone is a “close contact” they will be required to isolate for 10 days from their last contact with the positive case and will be released providing they return a negative day 8 test.
  • Household members of a “close contact” are asked to stay at home until the “close contact” returns a negative day 5 test result.

The ripple effect of these isolation rules means that some people will be required to isolate far beyond the standard 10 and 14-day periods. 

The government has outlined a three-phase response to managing Omicron in the community. Phase two and phase three have different isolation rules from the current phase one settings. You can learn more about the phase two and three requirements here.

What government support is available?

Employers, including self-employed people, have access to the following two government support schemes to help pay employees or themselves who are required to isolate. In doing so they do have to complete a Declaration that requires you to meet certain obligations.

1.     Short-Term Absence Payment
This is a one-off payment of $359 for an affected employee who:

  • Is required to isolate while awaiting Covid-19 test results;
  • Is looking after a dependent who has been asked to get a test; or
  • Lives with someone who has been to a location of interest and must stay home until they have received a negative test result and
  • Is unable to work from home

Applications for this scheme can only be made once per employee in any 30 day period and the employer must use the funds to pay the employee’s ordinary wages or salary per their employment agreement or the law.

If paying the full daily wage is not possible, the employer must pay at least $359 to the employe

Learn more about the Short Term Absence Payment.
2.     Leave Support Scheme
This is a weekly payment of $600 for full-time employees (20+hrs) and $359 for part-time employees (up to 20hrs) who are required to isolate for at least 4 consecutive days due to:

  • Testing positive for Covid-19, being a close contact of a positive case, being advised to isolate due to medical reasons, or looking after a dependent who needs support to self-isolate; and
  • Is unable to work from home

If your employee needs to keep self-isolating for at least 11 calendar days or more and can't work from home, you can apply for a second-week payment of the Leave Support Scheme.

You can apply for a third and subsequent leave support payments for every further seven days of self-isolation.

Note that the Leave Support Scheme does not cover household members of a close contact.

Learn more about the Leave Support Scheme.

What is included in the Declarations?
As mentioned above, employers must sign a declaration as part of their application for either of these support schemes. By signing the declaration, you acknowledge and agree that:
  • Your business meets the eligibility criteria, is not currently receiving a subsidy through any other Covid-19 support schemes for the same employee, and in the case of the Short-Term Absence Payment your application is made within 8 weeks of the employee having a Covid-19 test
  • The employee(s) named in your application are eligible to receive the payment
  • You have an obligation to use the subsidy to retain employees
  • You have discussed the application with the named employee(s) and you have their consent, in writing, to information sharing

For more detail, links to each of the declarations are below:

Short Term Absence Declaration

Leave Support Declaration

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