If your job has been affected by coronavirus

This is a guide for people who have lost their job or whose hours at work have been impacted by coronavirus. It contains information on your rights at work, financial support available, upskilling options and ways to find a job.


Know your rights at work


Changes to your job

During the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, your employer may ask you to change how and where you do your job, including:

  • increasing or reducing the number of hours you work
  • changes to your rostered working hours
  • working from home
  • the type of work you do

Changes to how much and when you work

Your employer can ask you to work extra hours or change your rostered hours if the request is reasonable. They’ll have to let you know the details of the change and take your views into account.

It’s important to check your award, registered agreement, employment contract or workplace policies first. There may be rules around overtime and how many hours you can work.

If you have a permanent job (are employed full-time or part-time on an ongoing basis), your employer will usually need your agreement if they want to reduce your work hours.

Individual flexibility arrangements

You can choose to enter an individual flexibility arrangement if you, or your employer, want to make changes to your work that are different to the terms in your award or enterprise agreement.

This lets you change:

  • working hours
  • overtime rates
  • penalty rates
  • leave loading
  • allowances

Both you and your employer will need to agree to any individual flexibility arrangement in writing. Don’t be pressured or forced to sign one. 

Working from home

The normal workplace, health and safety laws still apply if you’re working from home. Your employer is responsible for minimising your risks, which can include:

  • guidance on workstation setup
  • following good ergonomic practices
  • regular communication
  • continued access to any employee assistance program

Talk to your employer if you need any equipment to set up your home office in a safe and ergonomic way. Although they don’t have to supply or pay for any equipment, your employer may be willing to loan it to you for the short term. 

If you do need to buy home office equipment yourself, you can usually claim the expenses associated with a home office when you complete your income tax.

If you’re asked to work from home and are experiencing family or domestic violence

If it isn’t safe for you to work from home due to the impact of family or domestic violence, you’re legally allowed to:

  • take unpaid family and domestic violence leave
  • request flexible working arrangements
  • take paid or unpaid sick or carer’s leave, in some situations

When working from home isn’t possible

If you need to go into work to do your job, your employer is legally responsible for managing the risk of coronavirus in the workplace.  

This can include:

  • creating barriers to enforce social distancing rules
  • promoting good hygiene
  • cleaning surfaces and high traffic areas more often
  • changing rosters to reduce the number of staff working at any one time

You have the right to stop or refuse to carry out work if you’re concerned that it’s a serious risk to your health and safety.

Talk to your employer or Health and Safety Representative (HSR) about any safety concerns you have.


If you’re taking leave

You may need to take leave from your work as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19). There are paid and unpaid leave options, depending on your situation. 

If you have to self-quarantine

Your employer doesn’t have to pay you if you can’t work because you need to self-quarantine (also called self-isolate).

You can talk to them about your options, including:

  • working from home or from another location
  • taking sick leave
  • taking annual leave
  • taking unpaid pandemic leave
  • taking any other leave available, such as long service leave 

If you or a family member is sick with coronavirus

If you work full-time or part-time, you can take:

  • paid sick leave if you can’t work because you’re sick with coronavirus
  • paid carer’s leave to look after a family or household member who's sick with coronavirus
  • 2 days of unpaid carer’s leave each time a family or household member is sick, if you've used all your paid carer's leave

Casual employees can take 2 days of unpaid carer’s leave each time a family or household member is sick.

Your employer may ask for a medical certificate as proof of the illness if you’re taking sick or carer’s leave.

You’re protected from losing your job if you’re away from work temporarily due to illness, including with coronavirus.

If you think you caught coronavirus at work

Talk to your employer as soon as possible if you have coronavirus and think you caught it at work, as you may be able to claim workers compensation. 

In most cases, you’ll need to prove that your work activities were the main contributing factor in getting coronavirus.

To make a claim, you’ll need to get:

  • a certificate of capacity from your doctor to prove your diagnosis 
  • information from your employer and doctor that shows your job was the main contributing factor in catching coronavirus

For workers in certain industries with a higher risk of exposure, it will be presumed that you caught coronavirus through your job, unless it can be proven otherwise.

This will apply to those working in industries including:

  • health care
  • retail
  • restaurants, clubs and hotels
  • education
  • police and emergency services
  • disability and aged care
  • refuges, halfway houses and homeless shelters
  • passenger transport services
  • libraries
  • courts and tribunals
  • correctional centres and detention centres
  • construction
  • public entertainment or instruction (including cinemas and museums)
  • cleaning

If your child’s school or childcare centre is closed

Full-time and part-time workers can take paid carer’s leave to look after a family member because of an unexpected emergency.

This includes if your child’s school or childcare centre temporarily closes on short notice due to coronavirus concerns. 

All employees, including casuals, can take 2 days of unpaid carer’s leave for each unexpected emergency. Those who work full-time and part-time must have used their paid carer’s leave first. 

Your employer may ask for proof of the unexpected emergency if you're claiming paid or unpaid carer’s leave.

If your child’s school or childcare centre is closed for a longer period, talk to your employer about other options, including:

  • working from home or other flexible working arrangements
  • taking annual leave
  • taking any other leave, such as long service leave

Unpaid pandemic leave 

If you’re employed under one of the affected awards, you can take up to 2 weeks’ unpaid pandemic leave if you can’t work because:

  • you have to self-quarantine by the advice of government or medical authorities
  • of measures taken by government or medical authorities in response to the pandemic, such as restricting non-essential businesses

You can check which award applies to you at the Fair Work Ombudsman.

This leave is available for full-time, part-time and casual workers. It doesn’t need to be accrued or pro-rated like normal leave, the full amount can be taken straight away. You may be able to take more than the 2 weeks if you and your employer both agree.

You’ll need to start unpaid pandemic leave before 30 June 2020, but the leave can finish after that date. It can be taken even if you have paid leave available.

You're still employed if you take unpaid pandemic. It won't affect your paid or unpaid leave entitlements, such as long service leave.

You’re protected from losing your job or from any other adverse action from your employer if you’ve taken unpaid pandemic leave.

Taking annual leave

If you’re employed under one of the affected awards, there have been temporary changes made so you can choose to take your annual leave at half pay, which doubles the time you can have off work. 

You and your employer have to both agree and confirm the annual leave arrangement in writing. Leave will need to start before 30 June 2020, but it can finish after that date.

Teachers employed under the teachers award can’t take annual leave at half pay, unless they work in early childhood services that open at least 48 weeks a year.

Can your employer direct you to take annual leave?

Your employer can direct you to take paid annual leave if the request is reasonable. They can do this:

  • if the relevant award or enterprise agreement you are employed under allows it, or
  • in certain situations, such as the business closing due to coronavirus

You can check which award applies to you at the Fair Work Ombudsman.

What if you’re a casual employee or independent contractor? 

Casual employees are paid a higher rate of hourly pay instead of getting paid leave, so they usually won’t get paid if they don’t work.

They can take unpaid leave, including:

  • 2 days of unpaid carer’s leave each time a family or household member is sick, injured, or if there's an unexpected emergency
  • 2 days of unpaid compassionate leave each time a family or household member dies or suffers a life threatening illness or injury
  • 5 days (in a 12-month period) of unpaid family and domestic violence leave
  • unpaid community service leave

In most cases, independent contractors are not employees and don't get paid leave if they don’t work.

There are some exceptions, such as fixed term contractors and contract outworkers in the textile, clothing and footwear industry. 


If you’re getting the JobKeeper payment

JobKeeper is a subsidy for businesses affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) so they can keep paying their staff. It is a payment of $1500 (before tax) per fortnight for each employee.

The scheme runs from 30 March until 28 September 2020.

How JobKeeper works

If your employer plans to claim the JobKeeper payment, they’ll:

  • need to claim it for all eligible employees, they can’t decide who gets it
  • let you know if they intend to claim this payment on your behalf
  • keep paying your wages as normal up to $1500, unless your wage for the hours you do work exceeds that amount

If you work more than one job, you can only claim the JobKeeper payment once, so you’ll have to choose which employer to do this through. 

If you usually earn less than $1500 per fortnight, you’ll still be paid the full JobKeeper amount. It’s against the law for your employer to ask you to give part of the payment back or to work extra hours for no pay in order to get the full amount.

JobKeeper enabling directions

Under the JobKeeper scheme, employers can direct their staff to:

  • work less hours than usual 
  • stop working altogether
  • change their work duties
  • change their work hours

This can only be done where business changes related to coronavirus mean staff can't be usefully employed for their normal hours, or where the government has introduced measures to slow the transmission of coronavirus.

If your employer directs you to stand down by not working at all or by working less hours, they’ll still need to pay you either:

  • the full JobKeeper payment, or 
  • your usual pay for any hours worked, whichever is more

You’re still employed if you’re directed to stand down and you’ll continue to accrue your leave entitlements during this period. 

If you’re stood down and want to get another job, or take any formal training or professional development, you’ll need to get your employer’s permission.


If you’re stood down

Being stood down is not the same as losing your job. You’re still employed and continue to accrue your leave entitlements.

Your employer can stand you down either with or without pay. 

When can you be stood down? 

Under the Fair Work Act, you can be stood down without pay:

  • if you can’t be usefully employed due to a stoppage of work, and 
  • where the employer can’t reasonably be held responsible for the reason that work has stopped

This includes where:

  • the government has directed the business to close 
  • most of the workforce is in self-quarantine and the remaining staff can’t be usefully employed
  • there’s a lack of supply

You generally can’t be stood down just because business is slow.

Enterprise agreements and employment contracts can have different or extra rules about when an employee can be stood down without pay.

Your rights during a stand down

If you want to get another job during a stand down, you’ll need to get your employer’s permission. 

Any existing restrictions on the work you can do as set out in your contract or workplace policies, such as not working for a competitor, will still apply.

You may be able to recover any unpaid wages if your employer has unlawfully stood you down without pay.


If you lose your job

Your employer can make your job redundant if:

  • they don’t need anyone to do your job anymore
  • the business closes or becomes insolvent

It’s not a genuine redundancy if your employer:

  • hires someone else to do your job
  • doesn’t consult you about the redundancy as required under the relevant award or registered agreement
  • could have reasonably given you another job within the business

If you lose your job and want to make an unfair dismissal claim at the Fair Work Commission, you can do so as long as it's not a genuine redundancy.

Notice, leave and pay

If your job is made redundant, your employer will need to give you:

  • at least the minimum amount of notice 
  • payment of any accrued leave
  • redundancy pay, if applicable

If notice is not given before your job is made redundant, your employer still has to pay you for that notice period, even if you're no longer working there.

Not everyone will get redundancy pay if they lose their job, including those who are:

  • employed in continuous service for less than 12 months
  • employed for a certain period of time or for a particular project or season
  • terminated because of serious misconduct
  • casual employees or apprentices

If the business is insolvent and can't pay its debts

A business is insolvent if it can't pay its debts when they are due. An insolvent business may go into liquidation, or the owner of that business may declare bankruptcy. 

If this happens, your employer may not have the money to pay you the wages and entitlements you’re owed.

You can make a claim to the Fair Entitlements Guarantee (FEG) scheme for payment of some of your entitlements, including:

  • your unpaid wages (up to 13 weeks)
  • your unpaid annual leave and long service leave
  • payment in lieu of notice (up to 5 weeks)
  • redundancy pay (up to 4 weeks per full year of service)

The FEG scheme doesn’t cover unpaid employer superannuation contributions. Contact the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) if you’re owed any superannuation.

If the business has been abandoned but isn’t in liquidation

If the business isn't in liquidation but your employer has abandoned it without paying your employment entitlements, you can apply to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) for help to recover any unpaid entitlements.


Employee protections and unfair dismissal

The Fair Work Act protects employees from losing their job:

  • if they’re temporarily away from work due to illness, including being ill with coronavirus
  • because of discrimination
  • for any reason that is harsh, unjust or unreasonable or another protected right

If you want to make an unfair dismissal claim, you’ll need to submit the claim within 21 days of your dismissal taking effect.


Get financial support

Coronavirus is impacting many workplaces across Australia. If your job has been affected and you're worried about your finances, there are ways to find support. 

This section is a guide to finding help and financial relief during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. It includes:

  • government payments
  • financial support for carers
  • assistance for businesses
  • practical ways to manage your payments and debt

Government payments while you look for a job

There are several government payments available for people whose jobs have been affected by the coronavirus.   

The type of payment you can get will depend on your situation, including whether you already receive support from Centrelink.  

JobSeeker payment

JobSeeker is a Federal Government payment, that can help people during the coronavirus who are: 

  • unemployed 
  • looking for work 
  • sick or injured 
  • prevented from studying

Eligibility requirements to get the JobSeeker payment have been eased. These changes are only temporary so it’s important you regularly check the eligibility requirements at Services Australia

There are three steps to take when applying for the JobSeeker payment: 

  1. Check if JobSeeker is the right payment for your situation or if you’re entitled to any other type of payment 
  2. Complete your registration to claim the JobSeeker payment. After you have registered, Centrelink will contact you about how to set up your online MyGov account so you can finalise your claim 
  3. Finish your JobSeeker application online using your MyGov account. You’ll be given a link at the end of your application so you can track the progress of your claim online 

Coronavirus Supplement payment 

The Coronavirus Supplement is a new fortnightly payment of $550 for people whose income has been affected by coronavirus.  

Payments started from late April 2020 for a period of six months for those eligible to receive the Coronavirus Supplement. 

You’ll automatically receive the Coronavirus Supplement if you receive one of the following payments: 

  • JobSeeker Payment 
  • Partner Allowance 
  • Widow Allowance 
  • Sickness Allowance 
  • Wife Pension 
  • Youth Allowance 
  • Austudy 
  • ABSTUDY Living Allowance 
  • Parenting Payment 
  • Farm Household Allowance 
  • Special Benefit 

Economic Support payment 

The Economic Support payment is made up of 2 separate, one-off $750 payments. 
You’ll get the payment if you already receive support from Centrelink, including:

  • income support payment
  • pension 
  • concession card  
  • veterans support 

The first payment started from 31 March 2020 and was given to people who: 

  • were living in Australia  
  • received an eligible payment or held a concession card between 12 March 2020 and 13 April 2020  

The second payment will start from July 2020 and will be given to people who are: 

  • living in Australia 
  • receive an eligible payment or hold a concession card on 10 July 2020 

The second payment will not be available for people who receive the Coronavirus Supplement payment.  

Crisis Payment - National Health Emergency (COVID-19) 

The Crisis Payment - National Health Emergency (COVID-19) is a one-off payment if you’ve been impacted by coronavirus and are suffering extreme financial hardship.  

You’re eligible to get the payment if you receive or have applied for support from Centrelink.

You're considered to be experiencing financial hardship, if you're:

  • single and your finances total less than 2 weeks of the highest rate of your income support payment 
  • part of a couple and your finances total less than 4 weeks of the highest rate of your income support payment

There are other conditions you’ll need to meet to get the payment including if you're: 

  • looking after someone in quarantine who is diagnosed with coronavirus 
  • self-isolating due to having coronavirus 

The amount of Crisis Payment you can receive is equal to a week’s pay at your existing income support payment rate. 


JobKeeper payment

The JobKeeper payment is to help businesses affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) keep paying their employee's wages and salaries. 

The payment is given to employers by the Australian Tax Office (ATO) who then pass it on to all eligible employees. 

Find out about how the JobKeeper payment works in Section 1: Know your rights at work. 


Payments for carers

If you are a carer and have been impacted by the coronavirus there is help available.

Economic Support payment 

If you already receive the Carer Allowance or Carer Payment from Centrelink, it’s likely you’re eligible to receive the Economic Support payment. 

The Economic Support payment is made up of 2 separate, one-off $750 payments. 

The first payment started from 31 March 2020 and was given to people who: 

  • were living in Australia 
  • received an eligible payment or held a concession card between 12 March 2020 and 13 April 2020  

The second payment will start from July 2020 and will be given to people who are: 

  • living in Australia 
  • receive an eligible payment or hold a concession card on 10 July 2020 

The second payment will not be available for people who receive the Coronavirus Supplement payment.  

Parenting Payment 

If you care for a child or are currently searching for work and looking after children, you may be eligible for the Parenting Payment. 

To get the Parenting Payment you must: 

  • be the main carer for a child 
  • live in Australia 
  • meet income limits set by Centrelink  

You’ll get the Economic Support payment if you receive the Parenting Payment.

Respite days 

If you get the Carer Payment, you're entitled to 63 respite days. You can use your respite days to take a break from caring while your Carer Payment continues.

If you need to stay away from the person you care for because you have coronavirus or you're self-isolating, you can use your respite days as a form of paid leave.  


Assistance for small business

If you’re a business owner there is wide ranging financial support if your business has been impacted by coronavirus.

NSW Government small business stimulus package 

The small business stimulus package includes:

  • a grant of up to $10,000 
  • tax deferrals
  • licence and permit waivers

Federal Government support for businesses

There is financial assistance and support for your business including:

  • cash flow payments
  • help to retain employees
  • relief for financially distressed businesses
  • investment incentive
  • increasing the instant asset write-off

Business Connect 

Business Connect is a NSW Government program that provides advice to help you start or grow your small business. 

Free training is available to small business owners, if your business has been affected by the coronavirus. The training covers: 

  • developing a customised recovery strategy 
  • managing your cashflow 
  • accessing finance including grants and loans 
  • marketing your business to reach new customers

Managing payments and debt

There is support available from your bank, energy company and across government to help you manage your ongoing payments and debt.

Energy costs

If you're having difficulty paying your utility bills, contact your energy retailer directly about setting up a hardship arrangement or payment plan. 

There are many rebates available to eligible customers that can help reduce energy bills, including electricity and gas rebates for: 

  • retail customers (if you get your bill from an energy retailer) 
  • on supply customers (if you get your energy bill or invoice from a strata manager or community/village operator)

No interest loans

Good Shepherd is a faith based and works with community organisations across Australia to provide people on low incomes with: 

  • microfinance 
  • financial programs 
  • no interest loans 
  • insurance policies 

If you need immediate financial assistance, you can apply for a no interest loan through the Good Shepherd finance program. These types of loans can help you manage expenses such as:

  • fridges 
  • washing machines  
  • household furniture 
  • education costs 
  • medical bills

If you're a homeowner

If you are someone with a home loan or are an owner-occupier experiencing financial difficulties due to the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19), you can get information about:

  • deferring your home loan payments 
  • defaulting on your home loan 
  • debt agreements 
  • managing your finances 
  • connecting you to further support and advice

Access your superannuation early 

If you're experiencing financial difficulty due to coronavirus, you can apply to access your superannuation early.  

Australian and New Zealand permanent residents and citizens

You'll need to meet one of the following conditions to access your superannuation early:

  • you're unemployed 
  • your job is redundant 
  • your working hours are reduced by 20% or more 
  • you're a sole trader and your business is suspended or there is a reduction in your turnover of 20% or more

You'll also need to be eligible to receive certain government income support payments such as:

  • JobSeeker 
  • Youth Allowance for job seekers
  • Parenting payment 
  • Special benefit 
  • Farm Household allowance  

You can apply once to get up to $10,000 of your superannuation between 20 April and 30 June 2020.

In addition, you can apply to get up to a further $10,000 from 1 July until 24 September 2020.

Temporary residents

If you aren't an Australian or New Zealand permanent resident or citizen and are experiencing financial difficulty, you can apply to access your superannuation early. 

You'll need to hold certain types of visas to access your superannuation such as:

  • a student visa for more than 12 months
  • a temporary skilled work visa 
  • a temporary resident visa

If you have a temporary skilled work visa, you can still be employed and apply for your superannuation.

You can apply once to access your superannuation before 30 June 2020.

How to apply 

There are key steps to take before you apply to access your superannuation early, including: 

  • set up your myGov account and link it to the ATO 
  • gather your Australian bank account information 
  • check your superannuation account balance
Financial advice about accessing your superannuation

It is important to know that there are financial implications to accessing your superannuation early.  

ASIC has put in place temporary measures so you can get financial advice about accessing your superannuation from:

  • superannuation funds
  • financial advisors 
  • registered tax agents

As part of these measures, the fee for accessing this type of financial advice has been capped at $300. 

Financial Information Service

This is a free, confidential service where you can talk to a Financial Information Service Officer from the Federal Government about:

  • financial products including superannuation and investments
  • financial planners and how to use their advice 
  • the benefit of reducing your debt
  • how to increase your retirement income

Financial support

  • Guidance to help you pay council rates, bills and fines at Moneysmart   
  • Claim expenses if you're working from home during the coronavirus at the ATO 
  • Learn how to plan and make a budget at Moneysmart

Financial counselling

Legal support


Upskilling and retraining

There is a wide range of new courses and training programs now available to help people boost their employment prospects, including:

  • Smart and Skilled - helping people to find new work or advance their careers through high-quality, affordable training
  • various career transition programs designed to build confidence and skills as people look to change the type of work they do

Many of the courses are free, or at reduced costs.


TAFE and university courses

In response to coronavirus, a number of online short courses programs are now available. They offer practical skills and experiences across a range of industries. 


TAFE NSW has developed a number of fee-free online courses that can generally be completed in just days or weeks. Note that:

  • eligibility requirements apply
  • there is a limit of 2 free courses per person
  • each short course requires various levels of commitment and time to complete

The free short courses are broadly divided across these categories:

  • developing administration skills
  • enhancing your digital impact
  • growing health and medical knowledge
  • improving leadership performance
  • strengthening practical business skills

In addition to the free short courses, other subsidised training is also offered, including:

  • mature-age scholarships
  • certification level training
  • Women in Business and other programs

University short courses

The Australian Government is funding a range of higher education short online courses at reduced prices.

The aim is to help unemployed people who may be facing financial hardship to gain new skills via remote learning. The courses:

  • range from diplomas to graduate certificates 
  • start from May 2020
  • take 6 months to complete

Each is targeted at prioritised areas of need, including:

  • teaching
  • health
  • science 
  • information technology

Entry requirements vary for each course. If you need help with costs, you can defer payment through the existing HECS-HELP program.

Open Universities Australia (OUA)

OUA is a collaboration between many Australian universities offering hundreds of degrees and single subjects online.

With potential disruption or downtime at work due to coronavirus, this could be an opportunity to:

  • expand your existing knowledge base
  • upskill to boost employment prospects
  • undertake new studies for a possible career change

Many of the shorter courses can be completed in weeks, and you earn credits towards a degree.


Smart and Skilled

What was once the NSW Vocational Education and Training (VET) system has now expanded to become the Smart and Skilled program.

Its aim is to help people in NSW get the skills they need to find a job or advance their careers by providing choice and access to high-quality, affordable training.

The Skills List was developed in consultation between industry, community and labour market experts. It covers all workplace sectors in NSW and includes:

  • an entitlement to government-subsidised training up to and including Certificate III
  • government funding for higher-level courses (Certificate IV and above) in priority areas

Eligible students pay only a portion of the training cost. Fee exemptions and concessions are also available for disadvantaged students.


Transition your career

There are specialist programs to help people gain the confidence and skills to help them shift to a new career.

Stronger Transitions

Stronger Transitions offers support and retraining for retrenched workers, or those facing retrenchment, to upskill or find alternative work. It operates mainly:

  • in regions affected by large-scale layoffs, or
  • where a local labour market faces difficulties

Other support measures for workers in the identified locations include:

  • partnerships with local businesses
  • on-the-ground employment facilitators
  • assistance with relocating for a new job

Career Transition Assistance (CTA)

CTA is run by the Australian Government and is for people aged 45 and older to build skills and confidence when applying for jobs.

You register with a jobactive provider and work together to:

  • identifying your goals and aspirations
  • better understand the local job market and the skills needed for those roles
  • gain confidence with using technology to search and apply for jobs


ParentsNext helps parents return to the workforce after an extended period off work due to childcare duties.

Many parents in this situation can often feel worried that their absence from the workforce can make it harder to find new work, or that they lack the relevant skills and training to compete for jobs.

ParentsNext service providers can offer support and guidance with:

  • childcare arrangements
  • establishing return-to-work programs and study options
  • locating employers offering child-friendly hours and flexible working conditions

Community and continuing education

In response to coronavirus, NSW’s adult and community education (ACE) providers have been given additional government funding to help them:

  • update courses with a greater mix of online content
  • develop their technical and teaching resources to improve online delivery

The community college sector has a unique focus during the pandemic on helping vulnerable students on a pathway to jobs by re-engaging them in learning and preparation for work.

Free IT courses online

The Australian Computer Society (ACS) has compiled a wide range of free online tech courses.

They're offered by Australian and overseas universities as well as learning academies from across the world in response to coronavirus.

Courses cover many topics, from digital transformation and coding to 3D game development, and are aimed at all levels of learning.

Some of the participating institutions include:


Open Colleges

Open Colleges is an Australian company providing online and face-to-face training and education services. 

Their online courses cover a wide range of workplaces and skills that help students retrain, change or take the next step in their careers. 

There are both certificate and diploma level courses plus nationally recognised qualifications offered across:

  • health
  • business
  • trades
  • childhood education
  • design

Finding a job

Many employees, contractors, freelancers, casual workers and sole traders are facing a range of employment challenges due to coronavirus, including:

  • being made redundant or stood down
  • being directed to take accrued leave (with or without pay)
  • working reduced hours or remotely
  • self isolation or having to care for a loved one

For many workers, the prospect or reality of losing all or part of their income can present real challenges to their personal, professional and financial wellbeing.


First steps

Finding new or additional work during the pandemic can be more challenging because so many industries have either scaled back, closed or moved to a more remote way of working.

    Whether you've lost your job, had your hours reduced or been directed to work from home, there are things you can do to get through this situation, including:

    • understanding your workplace rights (see Section 1)
    • assessing your financial position and any available entitlements (see Section 2)
    • exploring retraining or upskilling options (see Section 3)
    • finding a new job or additional work
    • taking care of your mental and physical wellbeing (see Section 5)

      How to get job ready

      Getting ready to rejoin the workforce after suddenly finding yourself unemployed, or if you're looking to change careers, can involve many tasks that you may be unfamiliar with. These could include:

      • assessing how your current skills and experience might be applied to other jobs
      • deciding on the type of job you’d like and the roles available
      • finding where jobs are listed plus how to browse and filter your search
      • writing a resume and preparing for an interview

      What’s Next?

      What’s Next? is run by the Australian Government and helps you decide what to do if you've been retrenched or you're looking for a new career.  It follows 3 steps:

      1. Where do I stand? - help with navigating the retrenchment process as well as support options for all job seekers
      2. Get your next job - tips on understanding your local jobs market and how to go about finding work
      3. Try something new - information on education and retraining options as well as identifying transferable skills

      Match existing skills with new jobs

      Despite the uncertainty in the job market due to coronavirus, it’s important to understand how the skills and experiences you’ve gained in past jobs might set you up for new or different roles in the future.

      Skills Match is an interactive online tool from Job Outlook. It helps identify how your existing skills can be transferred to new employment options.

      It’s a 3-step process:

      1. enter the jobs you’ve held, including any unpaid work
      2. Skills Match then lists a broad selection of skills and expertise, broken down into various categories, associated with these past jobs
      3. it then outlines a range of new job ideas that use similar skills for you to consider

      Writing a resume and cover letter

      A resume or CV and cover letter are your first opportunity to make a good impression with recruiters and employers.

      Even if your work experience is limited, a poorly presented or badly written resume could make it more difficult to progress your application or even get an interview. 

      This is especially so as employers and recruiters might be dealing with lots of applicants or inquiries as a result of workforce movements due to coronavirus.

      The Australian Government's jobactive website has several resources, including:

      • templates and suggested examples 
      • a video demonstrating how to tailor your resume
      • find a job blog, which includes articles and other tips to help get your resume and cover letter in the best shape possible

      Interviewing tips

      Job interviews can be nerve wracking. Practising your interview technique beforehand can:

      • help reduce any stress and anxiety
      • boost your confidence of performing as well as you can
      • highlight gaps in your knowledge so you can be as fully prepared as possible

      Another important pre-interview task is to research the company you're looking to join. 

      Doing so means you’ll have information to relate specific to the company and the role, which can show you have initiative and enthusiasm.

      This could improve your chances of succeeding or at least advancing to the next stage of the recruitment process.

      As for the interview, there are common questions that often arise. Prepare your answers in advance and practise out loud how you’d respond. Examples of general questions could cover:

      • your experience - “Tell me about yourself” and “What are your strengths and weaknesses?”
      • reasons for applying - “Why did you apply for this role?”
      • career objectives - “Where do you see yourself in one/two/five years?”
      • how you identified and managed a challenging situation (if applicable) - “Tell me about a problem you had at work and how you solved it.”

      Finding new or extra work

      If you’ve been made redundant or temporarily stood down from your job as a result of coronavirus, there is the option to explore interim sources of income until something more permanent comes along.

      Social media platforms like Facebook, Gumtree and Instagram are where many of these opportunities are being posted and shared.

      Currently there are numerous short-term and casual vacancies for workers across a wide range of industries, including:

      • healthcare, nursing, aged care, social work 
      • call centre and customer service staff
      • cleaning and workplace hygiene
      • government office admin to help process extra welfare applications and payments
      • packers and drivers for grocery stores and supermarkets 
      • nannies and tutors
      • Harvest Trail - connecting farmers with seasonal labourers
      • mining and agriculture

      Job search websites

      Online job search websites like Seek, Career One, LinkedIn and others not only list vacancies but provide helpful advice on how to:

      • search for jobs using keywords and filters
      • set up job alerts
      • create a profile or store a resume
      • make working from home easier to manage

      The Australian Government jobactive website and app also provides hints and tips to:

      • help your job search
      • make your resume and cover letter stand out

      Company websites

      If there are specific employers or companies you’d like to work for, visit the careers section of their website or one of their social media channels, like LinkedIn or Twitter.

      Even if there are no suitable jobs advertised, you can often register your interest and preferences and be notified if a role that matches your criteria becomes available in the future.

      Recruitment agencies

      Employment or recruitment agencies are companies that match people to jobs. Some specialise in particular kinds of jobs or industries.

      Visit their websites to search for available roles and other job finding resources. 

      If there are no jobs that match your skills and experience you can often upload your resume or register an expression of interest.

      Jobs in government

      There is a wide range of jobs, careers, professional development options, as well as training and education opportunities offered across local, state and federal governments.

      Jobs in government cover many business areas, including:

      • business or community services
      • communications, human resources and brand
      • economic development and infrastructure
      • science and the environment
      • finance and treasury
      • tourism and recreation

      You can find general information, application checklists, vacancies and more resources for:

      Gig or collaborative economy roles

      When customers and service providers come together via a digital platform such as a website, or mobile app, this is called the collaborative economy. It’s often known as the gig economy.

      People offering their services in the gig economy usually do so on a temporary or casual basis. They are sometimes known as contingent or on-demand workers.

      That could be delivering a pizza or driving a person from their home to the airport. It could be a freelance copywriter supplying marketing material for a client's campaign. 

      Ride-sharing service like Uber, OLA and Didi are examples of the gig economy. Other gig-type work includes:

      • Airtasker, an online community peer-to-peer marketplace to outsource small jobs, find local services or hire flexible staff
      • freelancing or business consulting roles across a range of industries
      • hospitality and on-demand labour hire
      • caregiver - taking care of the elderly, babysitting, or even pet sitting
      • renting out a spare room or home on Airbnb

      Starting a small business

      There is a range of government services, financial assistance packages and startup advisories to help you start your own business, including:

      New Business Assistance

      For individuals not in employment, education or training and interested in running their own business, the Australian Government offers New Business Assistance with NEIS.

      The New Enterprise Incentive Scheme (NEIS) helps by providing eligible people with:

      • accredited small business training
      • mentoring and support programs
      • financial support options

      Volunteering and timebanking

      Volunteering provides a chance to take on new experiences as well as give something back to the wider community. 

      This could be especially helpful with so many elderly people experiencing self isolation at home, many of whom may require medicine and meals to be delivered.

      Your contribution can be part time, casual, or even full time. Other possible benefits of volunteering include:

      • making new friends and contacts
      • improved health and wellbeing
      • the chance to rediscover a long-lost passion or hobby

      An organisation like GoVolunteer has general information and lists of organisations that may have a shortage of volunteers due to coronavirus.

      You can also search for a position based on keywords, your availability and location at the Centre of Volunteering.


      Timebanking is a community program where members exchange their services or skills for jobs needed to be done. It is free to join.

      When you voluntarily perform a task for a member, you earn time credits. Later, you can then use those credits to receive services you’re interested in. It creates community connections through shared experiences.

      For example, if you have computer or IT skills, you could:

      • give an hour of time to someone needing this
      • then use that hour of ‘credit’ to have someone help you move furniture or fix your pushbike

      Get mental health support

      If the impact of coronavirus is placing pressure on your income, family or relationships, and causing mental health concerns, talk to your doctor or trusted health professional in the first instance to discuss your situation.

      Additionally, there is a wide range of support services you can reach out to.

      For yourself

      For your family

      You can also get in touch with a social worker through Services Australia.

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