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Coronavirus Information for Apprentices and Trainees

Coronavirus Information for Apprentices and Trainees

This week, the Coronavirus was labelled a pandemic. In Australia we’ve seen big events like the Grand Prix and sports fixtures like the the AFL season in a state of flux. The US has postponed Coachella, paused the NBA and banned all travel to Europe. In Italy, the entire country is in lockdown.

So yes, we know you might be sick of hearing about it but it is crucial that you are planned for what happens if you, or your workplace, are affected by the Coronavirus.

Stimulus Package

This week, the Federal Government has announced a stimulus package focused on keeping Australians in work amidst the virus Pandemic. A primary focus of this package is to keep apprentices in work, with up $7000 in wage subsidies being offered to small businesses employing existing apprentices and trainees.

So, what does this mean for you?

If you are an apprentice or trainee, this means nothing should change for you. The cash injection is designed to support the jobs of the approximate 120,000 apprentices and trainees working for small businesses. The key things to note are:

  • The money will be paid directly to your employer;
  • the money will cover 50% of your wage for up to nine months for eligible employers; and
  • your salary should not be impacted by this subsidy.

If your employer is not able to keep you on, this subsidy will be available to eligible businesses who agree to take you on as a new employee. Be sure to mention this in interviews if you do find yourself looking for a new job. You can also find some job hunting resources via the AAPathways website here.

 “This won’t just help small businesses, it will assist the whole of Australia maintain economic health,” Council of Small Business Organisations Australia CEO, Peter Strong, said.

The stimulus package also includes a one-off $750 payment to around 6.5 million Australian’s, including those that receive ABSTUDY (Living Allowance), Austudy, Newstart Allowance and Youth Allowance. You can see all the eligible payment recipients here.

To be eligible for the payment you must have lodged a claim by 12 March, 2020 and payments will start from 31 March, 2020 – with the majority of payments to hit bank accounts mid-April 2020.

What happens if you have to self-isolate?

It is a good idea to talk to your employer about the possibility of self-isolation, and discuss a response-plan if this is to occur. Some workplaces may be able to offer a work from home option during isolation; however, it is important to consider that if you are unwell you may not have the capacity to work.

Full-time employees may have sick leave available to them –  have a chat to your manager about how many days you have available to ensure you are prepared. Find out more about sick and carers leave via the Fair work Ombudsman here.

For casual employees or those who may not have enough sick days to cover their leave period the social security system has options available for eligible individuals. According to their fact sheet:

Current income support recipients who cannot meet mutual obligation requirements due to isolation should call Services Australia and can be granted a Major Personal Crisis exemption for 14 days, without having to provide evidence such as a medical certificate (however, any requests to extend the 14 days will require evidence, such as a medical certificate).

At present, people who are aged 22 or over and under Age Pension qualification age, who are unable to attend work because they have been diagnosed with the Coronavirus or who are in isolation, may qualify for Sickness Allowance if they do not have any employer leave entitlements, such as sick leave, and they meet general eligibility requirements in respect of residency and income and asset tests.

From 20 March 2020, Sickness Allowance will close to new entrants and be replaced by the JobSeeker Payment. This does not mean that people who previously may have been eligible for Sickness Allowance are now unable to access income support. JobSeeker Payment will better accommodate individual circumstances, including assisting people who are sick or bereaved.

Young people under the age of 22 who are unable to attend work because they have been diagnosed with the Coronavirus or who are in isolation may qualify for Youth Allowance if they do not have any employer leave entitlements, such as sick leave, and they meet general eligibility requirements in respect of residency and income and assets tests.

Students receiving Youth Allowance (student) or other study related payments who are in Australia but unable to attend studies due to the Coronavirus would be taken to have a reasonable excuse for not meeting study activity requirements for their payments. Individuals in this situation must contact Services Australia to advise them of the circumstances.

In summary.

The Government’s response to the Coronavirus is designed to contain Coronavirus whilst support the economy and your job and training throughout the coming months. The key thing that you, as an employee, can do is understand what resources are available to you and work with your employer to plan and prepare for possible self-isolation.

AATIS would like to extend our best wishes, with a special acknowledgment to those working in the medical field over the coming period.


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