How do leave provisions apply to leave required for COVID-19?
When considering leave options we encourage all GPiT to have a look at the following resources:
- Individual contract with your workplace
- National Terms and Conditions for the Employment of Registrars (available on GPRA website)
- Fair Work Australia website – there is a specific resource entitled “Coronavirus and Australian Workplace Laws”
We have provided some common situations below.
I need time off work because I have respiratory infection symptoms OR have been tested for COVID-19 and need to self-isolate OR have been confirmed to have COVID-19 and need to self isolate
If symptoms are mild and you are well enough you may be able to perform teleconsultations from home and not require leave. Please see the below section on teleconsultations for more information.
In all of these situations, your reason for leave qualifies for sick leave. AGPT registrars are entitled to 5 days of paid sick leave and 2 weeks of paid annual leave (or full time equivalent) per six month term under the NTCER. It is important to know that the 5 days of paid sick leave per six months is available to both full time and part time registrars. Under the NTCER you do not need to wait to accrue sick leave and are entitled to an advance of 38 hours paid personal leave for each 6 month term upon commencement of the term. If you are working with the same employer for a full 12 months then you can negotiate to have the full advance of 76 hours paid personal leave allowable for the full 12 months upon commencement to help cover any period of sick leave required for COVID-19 reasons. Any leave above and beyond this, is at the discretion of the employer.
If you have run out of sick leave and annual leave (or alternatively are not wanting to use annual leave for this reason) then you will be eligible to access category 1 leave. Whilst category 1 leave does not contribute to training time it will not add to your training time caps. Please liaise with your training post and RTO to arrange any leave and complete any necessary leave forms.
For PEP participants, leave provisions are determined by their employment contract. Program length will not be affected.
My family member is sick with COVID19 and I need to care for them
Under the NTCER sick leave encompasses both personal leave and carers leave. The same answers to the question above will therefore apply.
I need time off work because I have been advised I need to self-quarantine as I am a close contact of a confirmed case or have recently returned from overseas
If you need to take time off work for self-quarantine reasons but are well in yourself then you may be able to undertake teleconsultations off site and not need any leave. Please see the section on teleconsultations below.
The Fair Work Act does not have specific rules in this situation. If you are not able to organise work from home arrangements with your practice then you need to negotiate with your employer the type of leave you are eligible for in this situation. This may include working from home, taking sick leave or taking annual leave.
As per above, if you have run out of sick leave and annual leave (or alternatively are not wanting to use annual leave for this reason) then you will be eligible to access category 1 leave. Whilst category 1 leave does not contribute to training time it will not add to your training time caps. Please liaise with your training post and RTO to arrange any leave and complete any necessary leave forms.
I need time off work because I (or a direct family member that I care for eg a child) have an underlying medical condition that puts me at increased risk of complications from COVID19 and I have been advised that I shouldn’t go to work as I need to minimise my risk of exposure
All GPiT are encouraged to discuss safe working conditions with their employer. If you fall into this category then it may be appropriate for your practice to put certain safeguards in place to reduce any potential exposure eg adequate triaging of patients, ensuring PPE, working from home arrangements or converting to teleconsultations onsite. We encourage you to discuss these options with your employer in the first instance and if a reasonable outcome can be achieved then no further action needs to be taken.
If you are unable to negotiate safe working conditions with your employer then you can apply for category 1 leave through your RTO with supporting documentation. We are aware that this situation could continue for an extended period of time and we do not want GPiT adversely impacted from either a remuneration or training time perspective. If on category 1 leave you are able to work in other roles (please see working on category 1 leave) and you may be able to negotiate a change of training placement that would enable a safer working option. We encourage you to discuss this option with your RTO as it will be dependent on your stage of training and placement options available.
Can GP trainees work while on category 1 leave?
We understand the financial strain that may result from needing time off work for COVID19 reasons especially if this time is an extended period. We are supportive of GPiT being able to work whilst on category 1 leave for this reason. Work that is consistent with the reason for category 1 leave is permissible with RTO approval and appropriate documentation. Any work undertaken while in isolation for COVID-19 reasons should not compromise that isolation.