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Qantas wins landmark case on sick leave payments


If you are stood down, can you access your sick leave? Unions put in the good fight for the employees of Qantas, but the Court has agreed with Qantas meaning employees cannot access sick leave even if they are stood down.

The Court has agreed with Qantas that employees that are stood down cannot access paid compassionate, personal or carer’s leave because there is no work for them to be absent from.

Employees are outraged by this decision, illnesses such as battling cancer and heart surgery were presented to the Court as reasons for allowing access to sick leave. Unions are disappointed by the result and will be seeking advice in relation to an Appeal.

Justice Flick stated, “if Qantas was required to pay leave entitlements after legally standing employees down, that would defeat the purpose of having the staff furloughed in the first place”.

It is the very characterisation of the leave entitlement conferred by s96 as a ‘form of income protection’ which presupposes that an employee is in receipt of income,” he said.

“As Qantas has repeatedly submitted, and correctly so, ‘income’ is not being protected if there is no available or required work from which to derive income in the first place.'”

What are the general sick leave requirements outside Stand down?

An employee can take paid sick leave when they can’t work because of personal illness or injury. This can include stress and pregnancy related illness.

The Fair Work Commission confirms that employees who are sick with Coronavirus and cannot attend work can take paid sick leave including if the employee needs to look after a family member.

BUT now if you are stood down…

Once the employer has stood down an employee the right to access sick leave ceases.

This will place enormous financial pressure on the very ill employees who are unable to access the accrued sick leave at a time when they need it the most.



Karena is a Partner at Coutts Lawyers & Conveyancers and is the Head of our Injury Compensation (with extensive knowledge in personal injury) and Employment Law teams. She is passionate and dedicated to helping her clients understand their rights and obligations and advising them on the best course of action to achieve their desired outcomes. It is her practical and client-orientated approach which has attributed to her authentic reputation positioning her as a highly regarded compensation and employment lawyer.

For further information please don’t hesitate to contact:

Karena Nicholls
1300 268 887

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This blog is merely general and non specific information on the subject matter and is not and should not be considered or relied on as legal advice. Coutts is not responsible for any cost, expense, loss or liability whatsoever in relation to this blog, including all or any reliance on this blog or use or application of this blog by you.

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