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COVID-19: Can I be forced to take annual leave?

Q. If we have to be quarantine or isolated, can my boss force me to take annual leave to cover it?

A. The simple answer is, no. 

If you are quarantined or isolated due to COVID-19, this would be personal leave. 

If you are a full-time worker, you are entitled to a minimum of 10 days per year.

If you are a part-time worker, you are entitled to a proportion of 10 days based on your minimum working hours.

You also accrue your personal leave from year to year. So if you are a full-time worker and only had 2 days sick leave last year, you will have an extra 8 this year.

If you do not have enough personal leave to cover the period, you may choose to take annual leave so that you are paid.  However, you must choose it.  Your employer cannot force you to take your annual leave.

There are only very limited circumstances in which an employer can force an employee to take their annual leave, and that is generally only when the employee has more than 8 weeks of annual leave accrued. There is also a clear procedure that must be followed in order for the employer to force a worker to take their annual leave.

Unfortunately, if you are a casual worker, you do not have any personal leave under our current workplace laws but we strongly believe the government must extend paid leave to casuals. But that isn’t just going to happen, we need to pressure the Government to do so – we need to share our stories loud and clear and sign the petition.

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