Business Info

Rights and Obligations for Individuals During Lockdown

By Paolo, 25.07.2021

Individual Financial Support

The current Enforceable Direction by the NSW Government has forced a number of individuals to stay home, potentially deprived of their income. Both the Australian and NSW Governments have introduced a range of support measures to help individuals in New South Wales impacted by the lockdown.

Available Leave

Employees impacted by the lockdown have access to a range of leave entitlements which differ depending on specific circumstances.

Unpaid Pandemic Leave

Employees who are required to stay home as a result of the Government Enforceable Direction can access 2 weeks of Unpaid Pandemic Leave. Unpaid Pandemic Leave guarantees the continuation of employment and does not affect any other paid or unpaid entitlements. Unpaid Pandemic Leave is not accrued and available immediately upon the above circumstances. Whilst on Unpaid Pandemic Leave, employees are still accruing Annual and Personal Leave and must also be paid any Public Holidays falling during the 2-week period.

Employees are required to notify their Employer as soon as possible and they may need to provide evidence to prove they can access this entitlement.

 Annual Leave

Employees can take Annual Leave whilst at home during the COVID shut-down. Those Employees who do not have enough Annual Leave to cover the entire lockdown or the isolation period may apply to receive double their Annual Leave accruals at half their pay rate and extend their accrued entitlements.

Personal & Carers Leave

Employees who have been tested positive for the Coronavirus can access their Personal Leave entitlements. The same applies if they need to look after a member of their household who has been tested positive to the Coronavirus.

Long Service Leave

Employees who are entitled to take Long Service Leave can access their Long Service Leave Entitlements in hours or day blocks, instead of weeks.

Rights and Obligations for Individuals

Financial Support

Employees and Sole Traders who have been prevented to access their primary source of income due to the Coronavirus lockdown can apply to a range of Financial Support measures available through the NSW Government.

COVID-19 Disaster Payment

The COVID-19 Disaster Payment is available to support workers who are unable to work due to a State or Territory public health which either prevents them to work completely or affects their regular hours of work.

The payment varies depending on the number of hours per week the relevant Employee or Sole Trader has lost of work:

  • Individuals who have lost 20 hours of work per week or more:
    Week 1 > $600
    Week 2 and 3 > $500
  • Individuals who have lost between 8 and 20 hours per week:
    Week 1 > $375
    Week 2 and 3 > $325

To apply for this Payment an individual must prove:

  • that was unable to attend work during the lockdown and suffered a loss of income;
  • could not access any COVID paid entitlements from their Employer (Paid Pandemic Leave);
  • was not receiving other Government sources of Financial Support (JobSeeker, Austudy, Parental Leave, Dad & Partner pay);
  • is not concurrently receiving another NSW Government Grant (i.e. Micro Business Grant)

Applications are processed through MyGov. The Applicant must have:

  • an active CRN (Customer Reference Number) with Services Australia (Centrelink);
  • an active MyGov Account linked to Services Australia (or set one up).

More information is available on the Services Australia website.

Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment

This payment applies to Sole Traders who are required to self-isolate, quarantine, live with or care for someone who is required to self isolate due to COVID-19, making them unable to work. The payment is a one-off lump sum of $1,500.

Eligible Sole Traders must satisfy the following criteria:

  • be 17 years old or older;
  • live in New South Wales;
  • be an Australian Citizen, Australian Resident or have a valid working VISA;
  • prove to be unable to work and consequently earn an income.

Sole Traders can apply through their MyGov Account > Services Australia (Centrelink).

JobSeeker Payment

JobSeeker Payment replaced the Newstart Allowance when the Coronavirus Pandemic started in March 2020. This is a fortnightly payment available to individuals who have lost employment.

The JobSeeker Payment varies depending on various circumstances. Eligible individuals must meet the following criteria:

  • be between 22 years old and Age Pension age;
  • being currently unemployed;
  • meet the residence rules;
  • meet the income and assets tests.

More information is available on the Services Australia website.

Accessing Tax Refunds

Individuals who have been employed in the 2021 Financial Year, may be entitled to a refund on their taxes paid to the Australian Taxation Office, throughout the year. The ATO reduced the tax liability applicable to low and middle-income earners in October 2020 and backdated this amendment to the 1st July 2020. Therefore, a number of income earners in Australia should expect a refund when lodging their Personal Tax Returns.

Employers have until 31 July 2021 to finalise their Annual Declarations to the ATO. Individuals should regularly check their MyGov account and see if their Income Statements are ‘Tax Ready’.


This blog and attached resources are of general nature designed for informational and educational purposes only. They should not be construed as professional financial advice for your individual business. Should you need such advice, consult a licensed financial or tax advisor.

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