Commonwealth employers have been told to pay casual staff who cannot work while self-isolating or sick with COVID-19.
Federal agencies have also been urged to trial large numbers of staff working from home to prepare for the "likely scenario" at the height of the pandemic that people are self-isolating but able to work.
The public service commission overseeing the bureaucracy's workforce told agencies and departments on Monday their casuals should have "paid arrangements" under the "extraordinary circumstances" of the virus outbreak.
Unions have been pressing the public service for paid leave covering casual employees as agencies and departments scrambled to prevent COVID-19 infections hitting their workforces.
The APS commission said the "exceptional measure" was in place during the pandemic until advised by the federal Department of Health.
"This is to minimise any incentive for employees to attend the workplace against medical advice and to minimise exposure to the public," it said in new advice to Commonwealth employers.
The commission told agencies to make paid arrangements - such as discretionary leave - available to let casual staff stay at home if they're sick with COVID-19 or self-isolating.
Pay should be set according to the employee's agreed or accepted shifts, the commission said.
"This may include averaging work done over the settlement period immediately before the employee was required to self-isolate, or considering the upcoming work schedule and any plans to engage the employee over that period," it said.
"Agencies should discuss options with their payroll providers early to ensure there is an ability to put arrangements in place quickly when required.
"As with other employees, where a casual employee is in required self-isolation but not unwell, work from home arrangements should be considered where possible."
The Community and Public Sector Union, which had pushed for paid leave covering casuals, said the leave arrangements would cover 8000 casual staff in the public service.
CPSU national secretary Melissa Donnelly said people shouldn't have to choose between staying at home and paying the rent.
"We are glad that the APSC has confirmed that all public sector employees will have access paid leave entitlements, including paid miscellaneous leave or work from home arrangements if quarantined," she said.
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Australia Taxation Office deputy commissioner Brad Chapman told staff in an email on Tuesday it had additional leave measures in place to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
"However, we understand not all staff have access to leave for self-isolation and this is causing concerns," he said.
"We have been working closely with the Australian Public Service Commission and other government agencies to find a solution to help staff if they need to self-isolate.
"We are pleased to let you know that we are introducing new special measures to provide paid leave for casual employees and employees with no personal leave credits to cover COVID-19 related absences."
The APS commission told Commonwealth employers paid leave for labour hire staff was a matter for the companies employing them.
"Agencies should consult with labour hire providers about their arrangements, and confirm that the provider has systems in place to ensure the potential for COVID-19 affected employees to present at workplaces is minimised," the commission said.
Ms Donnelly said the government was refusing to provide clarity for 23,000 contractors and labour hire workers.
"This is not just a matter of equity; it is about the essential public health response and ensuring government service delivery."
In separate advice, the APS commission told employers the likely scenario at the height of the pandemic would be significantly more staff working from home.
"Testing IT capacity and capability to enable this is essential, including by trialling large numbers of staff working from home before the pandemic reaches its height," it said.
The commission urged employers to avoid face-to-face meetings where practical, reduce the length and size of meetings, support people to work from home as required, and structure leadership teams to withstand confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases.
APS employers should consider letting vulnerable staff begin working from home immediately, it said.
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