Changes to Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment

  • 14 January 2022

Pandemic Leave Disaster payment is a payment available to workers who are required to self isolate or quarantine due to COVID-19, or care for someone required to do so.  Eligibility criteria may vary slightly across states and territories. #1  The following changes to the Pandemic Leave Payment have been announced by the Federal Government.  The payment is now $750 for a 7-day period (which reflects current isolation and quarantine requirements). #2  A second application may be made if required to isolate or quarantine for longer
periods.  Changes to the definition of close contact, whilst not strictly speaking a change to the payment itself, have the effect of limiting who is required to isolate or quarantine and therefore eligible for the payment. See Close Contacts.

  Current / Previous Announced Change #3
COVID-19 Test Prior to 10 January, a PCR test was required for a person with COVID-19 to access the payment. On and from 10 January 2022, a RAT test is acceptable, provided the result has been registered with the relevant health authority.
Means Test The payment is currently not means tested. From 18 January 2022, persons with $10,000 available to them (e.g. in bank deposits) will no longer be eligible for the payment.
Amount From inception, the payment has been a flat rate (originally $1,500/fortnight, now $750/week).

From 18 January 2022, payment will be: #4

• $450 for workers who lose 8, but less than 20, hours of work;

• $750 for workers who lose 20 or more hours of work. Under the changes announced by the Morrison Government, workers who lose less than 8 hours will no longer receive any payment.

Close Contacts

On 30 December 2021, National Cabinet announced changes to the definition of a close contact. A close contact is generally someone who lives with or has spent more than 4 hours in a household with a COVID-19 positive person (a.k.a. a household or household-like contact). #5

There are slight differences in the definition of who is a close contact across states and territories, with most states and territories adopting a definition similar to the Commonwealth definition but South Australia and Western Australia adopting broader definitions which define more people as close contacts.

The significance of being defined as a close contact is that this triggers the relevant requirements to isolate or quarantine. Anyone who is required to isolate or quarantine may be eligible for the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment.


#1 Eligibility criteria for each state and territory.
#2 When it was introduced in mid-2021, the payment was $1,500 for a 14 day isolation/quarantine period (requirement at the time).
#3 See
#4 Note: This introduces a tiered structure similar to that of the former COVID-19 Disaster Payment