Coronavirus – your employer obligations

Businesses and organisations need to manage their communications, policies and employer obligations regarding the current outbreak of novel coronavirus. For employer support, contact WorkPlacePLUS on 0419 533 434.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause respiratory infections. These can range from the common cold to more serious diseases.

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by a new form of coronavirus. It was first reported in December 2019 in Wuhan City in China and first confirmed in Australia in late January 2020. Symptoms include fever, coughing, a sore throat and shortness of breath. The virus is highly contagious and there is currently no treatment for COVID-19.

Scroll down to read some of the frequently asked questions we have been receiving, for which we have been providing professional advice and support...

Symptoms of coronavirus can range from mild illness to pneumonia. Affected people may experience:

  • Fever

  • Coughing

  • Sore throat

  • Difficulty breathing / respiratory problems

Other symptoms can include runny nose, headache, muscle or joint pains, nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting, loss of sense of smell, altered sense of taste, loss of appetite and fatigue.

If a staff member is experiencing any of the above symptoms, is unwell in any way, they must not come to work.

To protect others and stop the spread, you and your employees must:

  • practice good hygiene

  • practice physical distancing

  • follow the limits for public gatherings

  • understand how to isolate if you need to

  • people with even mild symptoms of respiratory infection should get tested

Anyone with COVID-19 or contact with a confirmed case must isolate to stop the virus spreading to other people.

As the COVID-19 pandemic is a rapidly changing situation, you should stay up to date with the latest information about the spread of COVID-19 and the steps being taken to slow the spread by following Government updates on

Workplace Health & Safety laws require employers to provide and maintain a work environment that is without risk to health and safety:

  • Employers must have measures in place to mitigate the risks arising from COVID-19.

  • Employers should provide clear direction and guidance to employees regarding: - what symptoms to be concerned about - what to do if they become unwell, and - when to stay away from the workplace

  • Employers must consider psychological risks such as stress and anxiety

  • Read more >

Employees also have responsibilities:

  • Employees are required to comply with a direction by their employer to remain away from their usual place of work, if they were reasonably able to and the instruction was reasonable in the circumstances.

  • Employees have a duty to take reasonable care for their own health and safety and to not adversely affect the health and safety of others.

If an employee is working from home, you won’t currently be able to do a safety inspection at their premises, so you can request them to self-assess using a risk assessment checklist.

It is important that employers use clear, regular communication and updates to reassure their staff through this challenging time. Regular workplace communications and updates around COVID-19 could include:

  • Your organisation’s pandemic plan

  • Your organisation’s infection control policy

  • Information on accessing employee assistance and/or support services

  • Information on accessing leave entitlements and flexible working arrangements

  • Updates on any adjustments to normal work events and activities

  • COVID-19 updates by the Australian Government and how these affect your workplace

  • Support information for employees or family members who are in isolation or quarantine

This is not an exhaustive list. You will need to continue to update your employees as the situation evolves and whenever your organisational approach to COVID-19 changes.

The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a range of workplace issues and concerns. Here is a sampling of the frequently asked questions we have been receiving from clients, for which we have been providing professional advice and support:

What leave entitlements are applicable if an employee is required to quarantine or self isolate?

How do I performance manage staff who are working remotely?

What are my employer obligations if my employee has to adjust their hours to help their child with remote learning?

What if I need to let an employee go or reduce their working hours?

I'm worried about workforce planning, what if most of my staff are required to isolate?

My employee is scared to come to work, what should I do?

How should I address COVID-19 related complaints of harassment and discrimination?

I'm concerned about casual staff coming to work when they are unwell, what should I do?

We don't have an employee assistance program, how can I support my staff who are experiencing stress and anxiety?

My business is affected by the shutdowns, do I still need to pay my staff?

What measures do I need to consider before I reopen my workplace?

WorkPlacePLUS available to assist you with your HR and employment concerns during the COVID-19 crisis. We are currently assisting a wide variety of businesses and organisations during this time. Read more... >

For more information and support, please contact us today.