Premier & Cabinet

Department of Premier and Cabinet Circular

C2021-14 Employment Arrangements during COVID-19


This Circular outlines arrangements for the effective and efficient management of the New South Wales government sector during the COVID-19 response, including support for employee vaccinations.

Detailed Outline

This Circular applies in response to COVID-19 as provided for in the NSW Human Influenza Pandemic Plan: A Sub Plan of the NSW State Emergency Management Plan.

Where employees who are not directly involved in the pandemic response cannot be gainfully employed at their normal place of work, remotely from home or at another office of the agency, such employees, where feasible and appropriate, may be temporarily required to work in another role within the same agency or in another government agency pursuant to relevant legislative provisions.

Unable to work due to illness

If an employee is sick, current sick leave entitlements and conditions apply. Where sick leave is exhausted, Agency heads may grant special sick leave on a case by case basis.

Working flexibly

Each agency, in accordance with its business continuity plan, is to operate as close to normal as possible during the COVID-19 outbreak, taking account of any protection measures recommended by NSW Health.

Unless employees are on approved leave (e.g. sick, annual, family and community services, special) during the COVID-19 outbreak they are to undertake their normal duties either at their usual workplace, utilising flexible working arrangements at home, or at an alternate location.

Where employees are working from home whilst also providing care to a family member, it is expected employees can balance caring responsibilities with their ability to undertake productive work, or other leave provisions can apply.

Where there is a requirement to ensure that each workplace remains open at all stages, agencies are to deploy employees in other areas of the business where possible. Employees may be:

  • required to undertake different work (most likely for essential work) as directed in their own agency; or

  • temporarily assigned to other government agencies to assist priority service delivery by those agencies pursuant to relevant legislative provisions.

Exclusion from the workplace

Where an employee is not sick but is directed not to attend the workplace due to isolation requirements, agencies should identify options for employees to work from home during the quarantine period. Where work is unable to be provided to these employees, they are to be paid as normal and are placed on paid special leave for up to 20 days.

Unable to work

Up to 20 days paid special leave will be provided, before other leave entitlements need to be accessed, to employees who are unable to work because they are:

  • caring for sick family members;

  • caring for family members due to closure of schools and caring facilities; or

  • unable to attend work due to transport disruptions.

After the 20 days of special leave has been used, employees may access accrued leave entitlements (sick, annual, family and community services, extended/long service leave).

Workplace is closed

Where the workplace is closed, flexible work arrangements should be considered either at home or from another office location. Where work is unable to be provided to these employees, they are to be paid as normal and are placed on paid special leave.

Work Health & Safety (WHS)

All government agencies will continue to have a primary duty of care under section 19 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW) (WHS Act) where relevant, as well as other obligations under the WHS Act generally.

Support for COVID-19 Vaccinations (effective from 16 July 2021)

To support employees receiving a Therapeutic Goods Administration approved vaccination for COVID-19, agencies may provide:

  • flexible working arrangements to facilitate attendance at vaccination appointments, and/or

  • access to special leave of up to two hours, or an equivalent payment at base rate of pay.

Managers will consider the reasonable business needs of their agency when assessing applications to attend vaccination appointments to ensure frontline service delivery is maintained.

The agency may require evidence to support applications for leave or payment under this clause.

If an employee receives the vaccine and experiences an adverse reaction, they may access paid sick leave entitlements. Where sick leave is exhausted, Agency heads may grant special sick leave on a case by case basis.

Timothy Reardon


Who needs to know and/or comply with this?

Executive agencies related to Departments
Separate agencies
State Owned Corporations
Statutory Authorities/Bodies
Subsidiaries of the NSW Government established under the Corporations Act


Not Mandatory

AR Details

Date Issued
Jul 16, 2021
Review Date
Dec 31, 2022
Replaced By


Contact us
02 9228 5555
Publishing Entity
Department of Premier and Cabinet
Issuing Entity
Department of Premier and Cabinet