Do You Know Your Leave Entitles During Natural Disasters

Written by: The Hawkesbury Phoenix


Just what happens when you’re knocked down by a natural disaster and you can’t make it into work?

Do you know?

The truth is there isn’t a specific form of leave for an employee to be absent from work due to the impact of a natural disaster - it might be something for the powers that be to look into.

In the meantime, if you can’t get into work as a result of the floods you can apply for annual leave, long service leave or any other leave, including personal and sick leave, available to you.

Personal and sick leave can be an option for certain circumstances under the National Employment Standards (NES).

If all of your leave is exhausted, you can still apply for an additional two days unpaid leave from your employer.

Emergency services volunteers, including firefighters, can generally access Community Service Leave under the NES.

The Fair Work Act doesn’t specify leave duration, but a reasonable absence given the circumstances is permitted to allow an employee to engage in emergency management activities, including rest and travel time.

Community Services Leave is generally unpaid, but some workplaces may have enterprise agreements or other arrangements to provide paid leave in similar circumstances.

Communities affected by natural disasters may be eligible for Federal, State and Local government support.

Refuge and recovery centres may be offered by the Local government as well as exemptions from fees and charges in some circumstances. State government schemes provide a range of support for affected communities, business and individuals.

These schemes are usually targeted toward property damage and immediate recovery needs like food and temporary accommodation.

State government support is often provided through, or in partnership with, the Federal government.

Income assistance available may include:

  • A Disaster Recovery Payment for up to $1,000 for those seriously affected, for example personal injury or damage to your home;
  • A Disaster Recovery Allowance equal to the JobKeeper payment for up to 13 weeks if you have lost income as a direct result of the disaster; and
  • An Additional Child Care Subsidy allowing access to up to 100 hours of subsidised childcare per fortnight for up to 13 weeks.

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