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

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workers australia

What you need to know.

If an employee is capable of completing their work at home, it is recommended that an employer does the following:

  • Advise staff to take equipment needed to complete their work home with them, such as laptops, phones and computer monitors.
  • Prepare in advance for paper based tasks to be allocated and all paperwork required to be delivered to employee or picked up weekly from office.
  • With a majority of companies utilising cloud based systems and computers as a standard of basic requirements for employees to complete their work, it is now simple to transition to remote working environment. You may find increased production from some employees due to added work/life balance they enjoy avoiding the commute.

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

  • Pay the employee the same wage as usual.
  • Keep actively in touch with the employee.
  • Consider implementing internal chat software such as Slack or Google Chats.
  • Conduct regular team meetings.
  • Actively check on the employees health and wellbeing.

Find out more about:

Choosing not to go to work due to Coronavirus fears

Some employees might feel uncomfortable, stressed or scared about attending work onsite. They may choose to not attend work. With staff that have a higher risk due to conditions such as immune compromised or asthma, this fear could be particularly the case. 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 actively and compassionately 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. The employer should have a clear Coronavirus plan and ensure all staff are adhering to it.

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, including dismissal. During these stressful times communication is the key to negotiating a plan of action between staff and employers. You do not want to end up dismissed. Disputes and dismissals relating to Covid-19 can be taken to the Fair work Commission.

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 unfairly dismissed from work due to the coronavirus there is a good chance it is an unfair dismissal and the dismissed 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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