COVID-19 Coronavirus in the Workplace
By Paolo Coniglio, 23.03.2020
Fairwork Coronavirus in the Workplace
At this stage, Fair Work has not introduced new entitlements for employees affected by Coronavirus. However, they have mandated the following regulations under the current Personal / Carers Leave Entitlements:
- Employees who are sick with the Coronavirus cannot attend the workplace for a period due to the workplace health and safety legal obligations that both employers and employees have.
- Employers can direct employees who are sick with the Coronavirus not to come to work and to get medical clearance from a doctor before returning to work. Employers can do this if they’re acting reasonably and based on factual information about health and safety risks, which includes relying on the Australian Government’s health and quarantine guidelines.
- Full-time and part-time employees who cannot come to work because they are sick with Coronavirus can take paid sick leave. If an employee needs to look after a family member or a member of their household who is sick with Coronavirus or suffering an unexpected emergency, they are entitled to take paid carer’s leave. An employer cannot require an employee to take sick or carer’s leave. However, in these circumstances, the employee is not entitled to be paid unless they use their paid leave entitlements.
- Under the Fair Work Act, an employee is protected from being dismissed because of their temporary absence due to illness or injury.
Safe Work Australia – Coronavirus in the Workplace
Safe Work Australia has published a number of control measures to protect workers from being infected by the Coronavirus in the Workplace. These measures include:
- determine appropriate control measures in consultation with workers, their representatives and taking account of official information sources
- implement those measures and clearly communicate them to all workers, including providing clear direction and guidance about what is expected of workers
- workers should know when to stay away from the workplace
- what action to take if they become unwell, and
- what symptoms to be concerned about
- continually monitor relevant information sources and update control measures when and if necessary. PCBUs should continue to provide information to workers, including changes to control measures, as the situation develops
- provide workers with continued access to official government sources for current information and advice
- provide workers with appropriate personal protective equipment and facilities, and information and training on how and why they are required to use them
- require workers to practice good hygiene, including:
- frequent hand washing
- limiting contact with others, including through shaking hands, and
- covering their mouths while coughing or sneezing
- require workers to stay away from the workplace if they are unwell and not fit for work, and encourage them to seek medical advice as appropriate
- seek advice from health authorities immediately if there has been a confirmed case of COVID-19 in your workplace
- limit access to the workplace by other people, unless necessary
- reconsider work-related travel and implement other methods of communication
- for example, rather than requiring employees to undertake air travel to attend face to face meetings, facilitate attendance by tele or videoconference
- remind workers that they have a duty to take reasonable care for their own health and safety and to not adversely affect the health and safety of others.
- provide workers with a point of contact to discuss their concerns, and access to support services, including employee assistance programs
- allow workers to access available entitlements in line with obligations under any applicable enterprise agreement, award, employees’ contracts of employment, and workplace policies.
** This is a reprint of Safe Work Australia
This blog and attached resources are of general nature designed for informational and educational purposes only. They should not be construed as professional financial advice for your individual business. Should you need such advice, consult a licensed financial or tax advisor.