The following helpful information was kindly provided by Rob Littlewood of Clearwater Workplace Solutions:

The Government has now introduced ‘mandatory’ self isolation for all people entering the country from overseas.

Following on from this news I have had a number of enquiries from clients in relation to the Corona Virus and the rights and obligations of employers and employees.

As with my last update the following link will take you to the FWO and Health Department sites with updated information about COVID 19 and your obligations. Keep abreast of any changes to requirements by referring to thus link on a regular basis.

https://www.fairwork.gov.au/about-us/news-and-media-releases/website-news/coronavirus-and-australian-workplace-laws

At this time permanent employees who are caught up in mandatory isolation can access their accrued paid leave entitlements. Naturally if they are sick or become sick during the isolation period this would include Personal Leave but they may also have an entitlement to Long Service Leave OR employers may offer an employee early access to LSL (this could include eligible casual staff too). This should be subject to agreement in writing so that the employer has a record of it. There is no obligation on any employer to offer this so seek additional information if this is an option that you think you would like to consider.

Access to Centrelink benefits, particularly casual staff who have been forced to self isolate, may be accessible. Follow this link for further information:

https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/subjects/affected-coronavirus-covid-19

If people are feeling unwell and exhibiting flu like symptoms then they should stay home and seek medical advice. You can send people home if they are patently unwell, this will be particularly the case as we approach the normal cold and flu season. Employers have the right to request evidence (ie medical certification) that the employee is free from the COVID 19 virus.

As you will see when you access their site, part of the recommendations from the Health Department is that people who have cold and flu like symptoms have themselves tested for COVID 19 to be on the safe side. As it is we may be on the cusp of a vaccine to treat the virus so the situation may be drastically different in the next few months.

Just as employers have obligations under the OSH Act so too do employees. Any actions they choose to take which endanger the health and safety of fellow workers constitutes a breach of the OSH Act. We are very much in a period of ‘dynamic tension’ between the requirements of the OSH Act and the requirements under IR. Neither the Fair Work Act or the Federal and State Awards were created within the unique context of a global pandemic.

Please follow the above links to keep yourself informed.
Clearwater Workplace Solutions www.employmentadvice.com.au

DISCLAIMER
The material contained in this Newsletter is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. No action should be taken with regard to any matters raised in this Newsletter without first seeking proper advice. Legal advice where required may be sourced via Clearwater Workplace Solutions