The following article highlights the current legislation surrounding workplace entitlements and obligations during the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. At the present time there is no additional legal policies or regulations regarding COVID-19, so guidance is taken from existing legislation.
Workplace health and safety laws
Employers can direct employees to stay away from their usual workplace under the model workplace health and safety laws. Employers need to be aware that workplace health and safety laws still apply even when an employee is working from home.
Entitlements surrounding self-isolation:
If an employer directs a full-time or part-time employee to self-isolate, and the employee is not sick, the employee should ordinarily be paid whilst the direction applies. However, if the employee cannot work because of a government order requiring them to self-isolate, the employee is not ordinarily entitled to be paid unless they use their annual leave or long service leave. If an employee is stuck overseas, they are not entitled to be paid unless they use their annual leave or long service leave.
Working from home:
If an employee wants to stay at home as a precaution and working from home is not an option according to the employer, the normal leave application process applies.
Sick and Carer’s Leave:
If an employee or their family member is sick from the coronavirus, full-time and part-time employees can take paid sick leave. If employees do not have enough leave, they can take unpaid carer’s leave. Casual employees are entitled to two days unpaid carer’s leave per occasion. Employees are required to give reasonable evidence of the illness if requested by their employer.
Leave due to school closure:
If employees are required to stay home due to a school closing at short notice or for a short period due to coronavirus concerns, full-time and part-time will be entitled to use carer’s leave due to it being an unexpected emergency. Casual employees are entitled to two days unpaid carer’s leave. Employees are required to give reasonable evidence of the school closure if requested by their employer.