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Coronavirus (COVID-19): Advice for employees in Australia

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If work can be completed by an employee at home, the employer is recommended to:

  • Ask staff who have work laptops or mobile phones to take them home so they can continue working at a safe distance from a crowd.
  • Arrange paperwork tasks that can be carried out from home for staff who do not work on computers
  • If a majority of systems are cloud based and employees have computers that can be used from home the employee can often achieve a productive level of work from home.

If an employer and employee agree to working from home, the employer should:

  • Pay the employee the same wage as usual
  • Keep in touch with the employee
  • Actively check on the employees health and wellbeing.

Find out more about:

Choosing not to go to work

Some employees might feel they do not want to attend work as they’re afraid and of catching the coronavirus which also causes stress. This could particularly be the case for staff who are at higher risk. A higher risk environment are offices and workplaces with copious amounts of people. This does not necessarily mean a high volume of staff but rather a place many people come and go throughout the day.

An employer should take the time to listen to any concerns staff may have and should take the correct steps to protect everyone in the workplace.

For example, they could offer extra car parking where possible so that people can avoid using public transport, disallow walk-ins and instead operate on a book-in basis.

If an employee still does not want to go to work, they may be able to arrange with their employer to take the time off as holiday or unpaid leave. Depending on the situation the employer does not have to agree to these terms. To learn more about unpaid leave and workplace disagreements you can contact us here at Unfair Dismissals on 1800 333 666.

If an employee refuses to attend work without a valid reason, it could result in disciplinary action by the employer. During these stressful times communication is the key to negotiating a plan of action between staff and employers.

What if someone in the workplace has Coronavirus?

If someone is sick in the workplace with symptoms associated with the coronavirus, they should immediately:

  • Notify their employer and go home.
  • Avoid touching anything and anyone.
  • Cover the nose and mouth when they sneeze or cough. It is highly recommended to use a tissue or the crook of the elbow. Tissues must be immediately disposed of.
  • Use a separate bathroom from others, where possible.

An unwell person living alone must self-isolate for 14 days. If they live with others and is the first to have symptoms, they must self-isolate for 14 days. Everyone else in their household must self-isolate for 14 days.

If anyone else in the household starts displaying symptoms, the person with the new symptoms must self-isolate for 7 days. This is regardless of where they are in the 14-day isolation period.

Full-time and part-time employees who are unable to work due to the fact 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, they are entitled to take paid carer’s leave. “An employer cannot make an employee take sick or carer’s leave. However, under these circumstances, the employee is not entitled to be paid unless they use their paid leave entitlements.” – Fair Work Australia

An employee is required to give their employer reasonable evidence of Coronavirus illness if the employer asks for it. Simply taking a day off and claiming to have Coronavirus may not be sufficient.

You can get more advice or help by either:

I’ve been fired from my job due to Coronavirus fears

If you or someone you know has been dismissed from work due to the corona virus there is a good chance it is an unfair dismissal and the terminated employee is entitled to compensation. To learn more get in touch with the staff at Unfair Dismissals Australia and receive a free consultation on moving forward. There’s nothing to lose. Call 1800 333 666

Full-time and part-time employees are entitled to take paid sick leave or carers leave should they be ill with Coronavirus or be required to care for someone in their household who has the virus. If an employee takes sick leave and provides sufficient evidence of having the virus and an employer fires the employee there is a high chance of unfair dismissal and the employee will be entitled to compensation.

It is encouraged employees and employers to work together to find appropriate solutions that suit the needs of each individual in the workplace. This may include taking different types of leave, working from home, or taking employers and employees taking extra precautions in the workplace to keep it clean and safe.

Useful Links

  • Department of Health – Use this website to keep up to date with the latest information on the Coronavirus, including requirements and conditions required for isolation along with quarantine periods.
  • Services Australia – This website will keep you up to date with Coronavirus support.

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