In consultation with your workers, you must put in place policies and procedures relating to COVID-19, including what workers must do if they are diagnosed or suspect they may have COVID-19.  

You must monitor your workers for key symptoms of COVID-19 which are: 

  • fever 
  • coughing 
  • a sore throat 
  • fatigue, and 
  • shortness of breath. 

What do I need to monitor?

You must require workers to report to you as soon as possible, even if they are working from home: 

  • if they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19  
  • if they have been, or have potentially been, exposed to a person who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or is suspected to have COVID-19 (even if the person who is suspected to have COVID-19 has not yet been tested), or 
  • if they have undertaken, or are planning to undertake, any travel. 

COVID-19 in the workplace

You must require workers to leave the workplace if they are displaying symptoms of COVID-19. Follow the information in our Suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 at work infographic and see also our information on COVID-19 in the workplace. 

If a worker has, or is suspected to have, COVID-19 you must allow them to continue to access available entitlements, including leave according to relevant workplace laws (e.g. Fair Work Act 2009 Cth) and the worker’s relevant industrial instrument such as an enterprise agreement, award, contract of employment or associated workplace policy.  

For information about workplace entitlements and obligations: 

You must not allow workers who have been isolated after having been tested positive for COVID-19 to return to the workplace (that is not their home) until they are cleared of the virus. Workers who have completed a 14-day quarantine period and who did not develop symptoms during quarantine do not need a medical clearance to return to work. 

Can a worker work from home while they are in isolation?

Yes - if your worker is fit for work and this is consistent with advice from their treating clinician. Asymptomatic workers can work from home during the isolation period, with appropriate measures in place for household members, subject to the direction or advice of their treating clinician. 

If your worker is unfit for work you must allow them to continue to access available entitlements, including leave according to relevant workplace laws (e.g. Fair Work Act 2009 Cth) and the worker’s relevant industrial instrument. For information about workplace entitlements and obligations: 

Can I conduct temperature checks on workers or others?

You may want to monitor the health of your workers through administering temperature checks, as a preventative measure in managing a COVID-19 outbreak in your workplace. There may be times where this is required or reasonable, for example, where workers live together in accommodation such as FIFO or agricultural workers or in workplaces where vulnerable people are present, such as hospitals and aged care facilities.  

However, for many workplaces, there may be little benefit in conducting temperature checks on workers or others. This is because temperature checks will not tell you whether a person has COVID-19. It will only identify symptoms. It is possible that a person may be asymptomatic or be on medication that reduces their temperature. It is also possible that the person may have a temperature for another reason unrelated to COVID-19.  

You should implement known controls, such as good hygiene measures, physical distancing (keeping everyone at the workplace at least 1.5 metres physically apart), workplace cleaning and personal protective equipment (PPE) rather than only relying on temperature checks. You should also require workers to tell you if they are feeling unwell, including if they have a fever, and require them to go home when they do. 

Before administering temperature checks: 

  • seek the advice of your public health authority on the appropriate method of temperature checking, equipment, PPE and control measures required to ensure safe testing 
  • consult with your workers, and their health and safety representatives, and take their views into account 
  • provide instruction to all workers on the process for temperature checks, including emphasising the importance of maintaining the other control measures 
  • provide information, training, instruction and supervision, as well appropriate PPE for workers conducting temperature checks, and 
  • get advice on leave/stand down arrangements for employees who register high temperatures. 

How do I know when a worker is cleared to return to the workplace after having COVID-19 or being subject to self-isolation requirements?

Workers who have been isolated after having been tested positive for COVID-19 can return to their workplace (when not working from home) when they have fully recovered and have met the criteria for clearance from isolation. The criteria may vary depending on circumstances of the workplace and states and territories may manage clearance from isolation differently. Clearance may need to be given by the public health authority or the person’s treating clinician.  

Workers who have completed a 14-day quarantine period (either after returning from travel or because of close contact with a confirmed case), and who did not develop symptoms during quarantine, do not need a medical clearance to return to the workplace. You should not ask these workers to be tested for COVID-19 in order to return to work. 

Drug and alcohol testing

Drug and alcohol testing is most commonly carried out in the transport, construction and mining industries, as part of a suite of controls to manage drug and alcohol risks in the workplace.

Drug and alcohol testing poses an additional risk of COVID-19 transmission and infection, and additional safety considerations are required.

Employers must ensure that appropriate risk assessments are carried out to identify and control the risks arising from drug and alcohol testing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Can I continue drug and alcohol testing during the COVID-19 pandemic?

The decision to continue drug and alcohol testing poses an additional risk of transmission and COVID-19 infection, and additional health and safety measures are required. When considering how to manage the risk of COVID-19, you must review and amend drug and alcohol related policies and procedures. This includes making the necessary changes to the testing methods, systems of work and control measures in place in your workplace, to ensure testing can be carried out safely and does not result in the transmission of COVID-19.

The three most commonly used testing methods are:

  • Breath testing – tests an individual’s breath for alcohol intoxication, delivering immediate results using either a handheld, portable device or a wall mounted unit. There is a good correlation between the level of alcohol in a person’s breath and their blood alcohol level.
  • Urine testing – tests an individual’s urine for the metabolites of drugs and alcohol. Substances may be detected after consumption depending on the substance’s elimination half-life.
  • Saliva testing – the least invasive method to detect drugs and alcohol in an individual’s saliva.

When considering how to manage the risk of COVID-19, you must review and amend drug and alcohol related policies and procedures. Testing workers for alcohol and illicit substances may assist in maintaining a safe and healthy work environment for some businesses, and it is required by law in some industries. However, you must ensure that appropriate risk assessments are carried out to identify and control the risks arising from drug and alcohol testing.

If the risks of COVID-19 cannot be appropriately managed, alternative systems or approaches are needed.

You must also consult with your workers about how to manage the risk of COVID-19 and provide them with detailed information on how testing will be undertaken safely. If workers are represented by Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) you must include them in the consultation process. 

How do I safely carry out drug and alcohol testing?

Undertaking workplace drug and alcohol testing poses risks to workers due to the potential for COVID-19 to be transmitted through the testing process. Additional safety considerations are therefore required to ensure testing does not result in the transmission of COVID-19. You must consider the testing methods, systems of work and control measures in place in your workplace, to ensure testing can be carried out safely. All testing arrangements must be designed to ensure physical distancing as much as possible and minimise face to face contact for example, through positioning workers when undertaking testing.

If a worker is unwell or displaying symptoms of COVID-19 they should not be tested while they are unwell.

You might want to consider getting expert advice about how to conduct drug and alcohol testing including testing methods and cleaning. For example, getting advice from the manufacturer of your testing equipment. If you use a third party to conduct your testing, you should talk to them about what measures they have in place to provide safe testing.

For breath and saliva testing

To ensure testing is performed safely, employers must:

  • consult with workers to identify risks, concerns and possible solutions
  • carry out testing in a well-ventilated, open-air or outdoor environment
  • provide all staff with suitable personal protective equipment (PPE) and ensure it is worn correctly
  • ensure all staff thoroughly wash their hands before and after each test is performed
  • ensure that testing is carried out or supervised by a person who is appropriately trained in the fundamentals of infection control for COVID-19 including PPE (online COVID-19 infection control training is available on the Australian Government Department of Health website), and
  • ensure that any changes to testing regimes align with the relevant Australian Standards and Department of Health guidelines.

Breath testing

Should breath testing be carried out:

  • use appropriately calibrated testing equipment that:
    • incorporates a mechanism to prevent saliva/respiratory secretions/respiratory exhaust from being passed from one person to the next or from entering areas where cross contamination could occur, and
    • can be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before and after each use as per the manufacturer’s instructions
  • consider using a passive/fast mode of detection as a screening tool that provides a quick pass or fail reading, and
  • use single use straws for testing, with a new straw for each test, and appropriately dispose of used straws.

Wall mounted breathalysing units

Wall mounted breathalysing units should not be used if the above control measures cannot be applied. It is particularly important that adequate cleaning and disinfection occurs between each use to prevent transmission of COVID-19. You should also ensure the respiratory exhaust can be directed away from people and surfaces, which is not possible with all units. If there are any doubts, wall mounted breathalysing units should not be used. If possible, alternative testing methods should be implemented until the risks arising from using wall mounted breathalysing units have been eliminated.

Do I need to consult with my workers about workplace drug and alcohol testing?

You must consult with workers on health and safety matters relating to COVID-19. This includes any decisions about workplace drug and alcohol testing. If workers are represented by Health and Safety Representatives you must include them in the consultation process. 

This is a stressful time for all Australians and workers may be concerned about the risk of COVID-19 transmission and the impact on their health. When consulting with your workers, you must provide them with the opportunity to express their views and raise concerns. You must take the views of your workers into account and advise them of the outcome of consultation.

If you decide to continue with drug and alcohol testing, you should clearly inform workers of the control measures being implemented that will allow testing to continue safely. You must provide this information as early as possible prior to continuing testing and ensure that this information can be easily understood by your workers. 

For more information on the importance of consulting with your workers, see also the Consultation page.

In consultation with your workers, you must put in place policies and procedures relating to COVID-19, including what workers must do if they are diagnosed or suspect they may have COVID-19.  

You must monitor your workers for key symptoms of COVID-19 which are: 

  • fever 
  • coughing 
  • a sore throat 
  • fatigue, and 
  • shortness of breath. 

What do I need to monitor?

You must require workers to report to you as soon as possible, even if they are working from home: 

  • if they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19  
  • if they have been, or have potentially been, exposed to a person who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or is suspected to have COVID-19 (even if the person who is suspected to have COVID-19 has not yet been tested), or 
  • if they have undertaken, or are planning to undertake, any travel. 

COVID-19 in the workplace

You must require workers to leave the workplace if they are displaying symptoms of COVID-19. Follow the information in our Suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 at work infographic and see also our information on COVID-19 in the workplace. 

If a worker has, or is suspected to have, COVID-19 you must allow them to continue to access available entitlements, including leave according to relevant workplace laws (e.g. Fair Work Act 2009 Cth) and the worker’s relevant industrial instrument such as an enterprise agreement, award, contract of employment or associated workplace policy.  

For information about workplace entitlements and obligations: 

You must not allow workers who have been isolated after having been tested positive for COVID-19 to return to the workplace (that is not their home) until they are cleared of the virus. Workers who have completed a 14-day quarantine period and who did not develop symptoms during quarantine do not need a medical clearance to return to work. 

Can a worker work from home while they are in isolation?

Yes - if your worker is fit for work and this is consistent with advice from their treating clinician. Asymptomatic workers can work from home during the isolation period, with appropriate measures in place for household members, subject to the direction or advice of their treating clinician. 

If your worker is unfit for work you must allow them to continue to access available entitlements, including leave according to relevant workplace laws (e.g. Fair Work Act 2009 Cth) and the worker’s relevant industrial instrument. For information about workplace entitlements and obligations: 

Can I conduct temperature checks on workers or others?

You may want to monitor the health of your workers through administering temperature checks, as a preventative measure in managing a COVID-19 outbreak in your workplace. There may be times where this is required or reasonable, for example, where workers live together in accommodation such as FIFO or agricultural workers or in workplaces where vulnerable people are present, such as hospitals and aged care facilities.  

However, for many workplaces, there may be little benefit in conducting temperature checks on workers or others. This is because temperature checks will not tell you whether a person has COVID-19. It will only identify symptoms. It is possible that a person may be asymptomatic or be on medication that reduces their temperature. It is also possible that the person may have a temperature for another reason unrelated to COVID-19.  

You should implement known controls, such as good hygiene measures, physical distancing (keeping everyone at the workplace at least 1.5 metres physically apart), workplace cleaning and personal protective equipment (PPE) rather than only relying on temperature checks. You should also require workers to tell you if they are feeling unwell, including if they have a fever, and require them to go home when they do. 

Before administering temperature checks: 

  • seek the advice of your public health authority on the appropriate method of temperature checking, equipment, PPE and control measures required to ensure safe testing 
  • consult with your workers, and their health and safety representatives, and take their views into account 
  • provide instruction to all workers on the process for temperature checks, including emphasising the importance of maintaining the other control measures 
  • provide information, training, instruction and supervision, as well appropriate PPE for workers conducting temperature checks, and 
  • get advice on leave/stand down arrangements for employees who register high temperatures. 

How do I know when a worker is cleared to return to the workplace after having COVID-19 or being subject to self-isolation requirements?

Workers who have been isolated after having been tested positive for COVID-19 can return to their workplace (when not working from home) when they have fully recovered and have met the criteria for clearance from isolation. The criteria may vary depending on circumstances of the workplace and states and territories may manage clearance from isolation differently. Clearance may need to be given by the public health authority or the person’s treating clinician.  

Workers who have completed a 14-day quarantine period (either after returning from travel or because of close contact with a confirmed case), and who did not develop symptoms during quarantine, do not need a medical clearance to return to the workplace. You should not ask these workers to be tested for COVID-19 in order to return to work. 

Drug and alcohol testing

Drug and alcohol testing is most commonly carried out in the transport, construction and mining industries, as part of a suite of controls to manage drug and alcohol risks in the workplace.

Drug and alcohol testing poses an additional risk of COVID-19 transmission and infection, and additional safety considerations are required.

Employers must ensure that appropriate risk assessments are carried out to identify and control the risks arising from drug and alcohol testing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Can I continue drug and alcohol testing during the COVID-19 pandemic?

The decision to continue drug and alcohol testing poses an additional risk of transmission and COVID-19 infection, and additional health and safety measures are required. When considering how to manage the risk of COVID-19, you must review and amend drug and alcohol related policies and procedures. This includes making the necessary changes to the testing methods, systems of work and control measures in place in your workplace, to ensure testing can be carried out safely and does not result in the transmission of COVID-19.

The three most commonly used testing methods are:

  • Breath testing – tests an individual’s breath for alcohol intoxication, delivering immediate results using either a handheld, portable device or a wall mounted unit. There is a good correlation between the level of alcohol in a person’s breath and their blood alcohol level.
  • Urine testing – tests an individual’s urine for the metabolites of drugs and alcohol. Substances may be detected after consumption depending on the substance’s elimination half-life.
  • Saliva testing – the least invasive method to detect drugs and alcohol in an individual’s saliva.

When considering how to manage the risk of COVID-19, you must review and amend drug and alcohol related policies and procedures. Testing workers for alcohol and illicit substances may assist in maintaining a safe and healthy work environment for some businesses, and it is required by law in some industries. However, you must ensure that appropriate risk assessments are carried out to identify and control the risks arising from drug and alcohol testing.

If the risks of COVID-19 cannot be appropriately managed, alternative systems or approaches are needed.

You must also consult with your workers about how to manage the risk of COVID-19 and provide them with detailed information on how testing will be undertaken safely. If workers are represented by Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) you must include them in the consultation process. 

How do I safely carry out drug and alcohol testing?

Undertaking workplace drug and alcohol testing poses risks to workers due to the potential for COVID-19 to be transmitted through the testing process. Additional safety considerations are therefore required to ensure testing does not result in the transmission of COVID-19. You must consider the testing methods, systems of work and control measures in place in your workplace, to ensure testing can be carried out safely. All testing arrangements must be designed to ensure physical distancing as much as possible and minimise face to face contact for example, through positioning workers when undertaking testing.

If a worker is unwell or displaying symptoms of COVID-19 they should not be tested while they are unwell.

You might want to consider getting expert advice about how to conduct drug and alcohol testing including testing methods and cleaning. For example, getting advice from the manufacturer of your testing equipment. If you use a third party to conduct your testing, you should talk to them about what measures they have in place to provide safe testing.

For breath and saliva testing

To ensure testing is performed safely, employers must:

  • consult with workers to identify risks, concerns and possible solutions
  • carry out testing in a well-ventilated, open-air or outdoor environment
  • provide all staff with suitable personal protective equipment (PPE) and ensure it is worn correctly
  • ensure all staff thoroughly wash their hands before and after each test is performed
  • ensure that testing is carried out or supervised by a person who is appropriately trained in the fundamentals of infection control for COVID-19 including PPE (online COVID-19 infection control training is available on the Australian Government Department of Health website), and
  • ensure that any changes to testing regimes align with the relevant Australian Standards and Department of Health guidelines.

Breath testing

Should breath testing be carried out:

  • use appropriately calibrated testing equipment that:
    • incorporates a mechanism to prevent saliva/respiratory secretions/respiratory exhaust from being passed from one person to the next or from entering areas where cross contamination could occur, and
    • can be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before and after each use as per the manufacturer’s instructions
  • consider using a passive/fast mode of detection as a screening tool that provides a quick pass or fail reading, and
  • use single use straws for testing, with a new straw for each test, and appropriately dispose of used straws.

Wall mounted breathalysing units

Wall mounted breathalysing units should not be used if the above control measures cannot be applied. It is particularly important that adequate cleaning and disinfection occurs between each use to prevent transmission of COVID-19. You should also ensure the respiratory exhaust can be directed away from people and surfaces, which is not possible with all units. If there are any doubts, wall mounted breathalysing units should not be used. If possible, alternative testing methods should be implemented until the risks arising from using wall mounted breathalysing units have been eliminated.

Do I need to consult with my workers about workplace drug and alcohol testing?

You must consult with workers on health and safety matters relating to COVID-19. This includes any decisions about workplace drug and alcohol testing. If workers are represented by Health and Safety Representatives you must include them in the consultation process. 

This is a stressful time for all Australians and workers may be concerned about the risk of COVID-19 transmission and the impact on their health. When consulting with your workers, you must provide them with the opportunity to express their views and raise concerns. You must take the views of your workers into account and advise them of the outcome of consultation.

If you decide to continue with drug and alcohol testing, you should clearly inform workers of the control measures being implemented that will allow testing to continue safely. You must provide this information as early as possible prior to continuing testing and ensure that this information can be easily understood by your workers. 

For more information on the importance of consulting with your workers, see also the Consultation page.

You must follow your employer’s policies and procedures relating to COVID-19, including directions about what you must do if you are diagnosed or suspect you may have COVID-19.  

You must report to your employer as soon as possible, even if you are working from home: 

  • if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19  
  • if you have been, or have potentially been, exposed to a person who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or is suspected to have COVID-19 (even if the person who is suspected to have COVID-19 has not yet been tested), or 
  • if you have undertaken, or are planning to undertake, any travel. 

The key symptoms of COVID-19 are: 

  • fever 
  • coughing 
  • a sore throat 
  • fatigue, and 
  • shortness of breath. 

Your employer must consult with you and your relevant health and safety representative before implementing health monitoring measures. 

COVID-19 in the workplace

You will need to leave the workplace, if you are not working from home, if you are displaying symptoms of COVID-19. Follow the information in our Suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 at work infographic and see also our information on COVID-19 in your workplace. 

You are entitled to access available entitlements, including leave under relevant workplace laws, (e.g. Fair Work Act 2009 Cth), and a relevant industrial instrument such as an enterprise agreement, award, contract of employment or associated workplace policy.  

For information about workplace entitlements and obligations: 

If you have been isolated after having tested positive for COVID-19, you must not return to the workplace (that is not your home) until you are cleared of the virus.  

If you have completed a 14-day quarantine period and did not develop symptoms during quarantine, you do not need a medical clearance to return to work. 

Can I work from home while in isolation?

Yes - if you are fit for work and this is consistent with advice from your treating clinician.  

Asymptomatic workers can work from home during the isolation period, with appropriate measures in place for household members, subject to the direction or advice of their treating clinician. 

If you are unfit for work you are entitled to access available entitlements, including leave according to relevant workplace laws (e.g. Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) or a relevant industrial instrument). For information about workplace entitlements and obligations: 

Can my employer conduct temperature checks on me?

Your employer may want to monitor the health of their workers through administering temperature checks, as a preventative measure in managing a COVID-19 outbreak in your workplace. There may be times where this is required or reasonable, for example, where workers live together in accommodation such as FIFO or agricultural workers or in workplaces where vulnerable people are present, such as hospitals and aged care facilities.  

However, for many workplaces, there may be little benefit in conducting temperature checks. This is because temperature checks will not tell your employer whether a person has COVID-19. It will only identify symptoms. It is possible that a person may be asymptomatic or be on medication that reduces their temperature. It is also possible that the person may have a temperature for another reason unrelated to COVID-19.  

Your employer must consult with you and your relevant health and safety representative if they are considering implementing temperature checks. 

How do I know I am cleared to return to the workplace after having COVID-19 or being subject to self-isolation requirements?

If you have been isolated after having been tested positive for COVID-19, you can return to your workplace (when not working from home) when you have fully recovered and have met the criteria for clearance from isolation. The criteria may vary depending on circumstances of the workplace and states and territories may manage clearance from isolation differently. Clearance may need to be given by the public health authority or your treating clinician.  

If you have completed a 14-day quarantine period (either after returning from travel or because of close contact with a confirmed case) and did not develop symptoms during quarantine, you do not need a medical clearance to return to the workplace. Your employer should not ask you to be tested for COVID-19 in order to return to work. 

Drug and alcohol testing

Drug and alcohol testing poses an additional risk of COVID-19 transmission and infection. If your employer decides to continue testing, additional safety considerations are required.

Employers must ensure that appropriate risk assessments are carried out to identify and control the risks arising from drug and alcohol testing during the COVID-19 pandemic and they must consult with you about how to carry out testing safely. If you are represented by Health and Safety Representatives your employer must also include them in the consultation process. 

Can I be directed to continue workplace drug and alcohol testing?

When considering how to manage the risk of COVID-19, your employer must review and amend drug and alcohol related policies and procedures. Testing for alcohol and illicit substances may be required by law in some industries. Your employer must manage the risks of COVID-19 and if needed, use alternative systems or approaches for drug and alcohol testing.

Will my employer consult with me about drug and alcohol testing?

Your employer must consult with you about health and safety matters relating to COVID-19. This includes any decisions about workplace drug and alcohol testing. When consulting with you, your employer must provide you with the opportunity to express your views and raise any concerns you have. Your employer must take your views into account and advise you of the outcome of consultation.

If your employer decides to continue with drug and alcohol testing, you should be clearly informed about the control measures being implemented that will allow testing to continue safely. 

How will my employer make sure drug and alcohol testing is safe?

Your employer must make sure that any testing carried out is done safely. This may mean that certain procedures are followed to ensure that physical distancing and good hand hygiene are practised. As part of consultation, your employer will inform you of any special control measures that are being implemented or any additional steps that are needed to conduct drug and alcohol testing safely.

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