You must consult with your workers on health and safety matters relating to COVID-19. This means you must consult when: 

  • assessing the risk COVID-19 presents to the health and safety of workers 
  • deciding on control measures to eliminate or minimise the risk of exposure to COVID-19 
  • deciding on the adequacy of facilities for the welfare of workers (e.g. hand washing facilities), and 
  • proposing other changes to the workplace as a result of COVID-19 which may affect health and safety. 

If you and your workers have agreed to procedures for consultation, the consultation must be in accordance with those procedures. If workers are represented by Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) you must include them in the consultation process. 

You must allow workers to raise and express their views on work health and safety issues that may arise directly or indirectly because of COVID-19. You must genuinely take the views of workers into account when making decisions and advise them of your decision.  

Do I still have to consult with workers if I am following advice from health authorities?

Yes. You must consult with workers about all the things you are doing to identify and manage the risks to keep workers safe during the pandemic. Workers are most likely to know about the risks of their work, including new risks introduced as a result of COVID-19 control measures. Involving them will help build commitment to this process and any changes you make at the workplace. 

Consultation does not require consensus or agreement but you must allow your workers to be part of the decision making process. You must genuinely take into account their views.  

Some or all of my workers are working from home, does consultation have to be face to face?

No. When you or your workers are working from home you may not be able to consult with them face to face. You must find other ways of consulting with them such as emails, video conferences or calling workers individually to discuss their concerns. 

Make sure you update your consultation policies and procedures to reflect the new arrangements you need to put in place. 

What else do I need to consider?

You must consult with your workers in accordance with any agreed procedures, including involving any HSRs. However, if working arrangements have changed (e.g. workers working from home, doing shifts or changing work groups) you may need to review and update these procedures to suit the current pandemic conditions. This may mean electing new HSRs for different work groups or changing procedures to allow for consultation through electronic communications. 

What do my workers need to know?

You must provide workers with clear direction and guidance about what is expected including:  

  • when to stay away from the workplace  
  • what action to take if they become unwell 
  • what symptoms to be concerned about, and 
  • that workers have a duty to take reasonable care for their own health and safety and to not adversely affect the health and safety of others. 

What other information should I share with my workers?

You must share relevant information with workers about health and safety issues, such as any COVID-19 WHS policies you’ve put in place or updated to taken account of the pandemic conditions (e.g. how to report any incidents) and any changes to emergency plans.  

You must provide this as early as possible and ensure that it can be easily understood by your workers. 

You should also remind workers about contacts to discuss their concerns such as HSRs, and access to support services, including employee assistance programs. 

Is there anyone else I should be talking to?

Yes. You must also consult, cooperate and coordinate with other businesses you work with, or share premises with, about how they will discharge their WHS duties when they interact with your workers. To do this you should:  

  • exchange information to find out who is doing what. For example: 
    • talk to your suppliers about how to safely manage deliveries 
    • talk to other businesses that share your worksite or premises about how to manage shared areas such as lifts, bathroom and kitchen facilities 
    • talk to other businesses that share your worksite or premises about what you will do if there is a case, or suspected case, of COVID-19 at the worksite or premises, and 
    • talk to other businesses you interact with, for example, the onsite food van or the contract cleaner.  
  • work together in a cooperative and coordinated way so risks are eliminated or minimised so far as is reasonably practicable (e.g. how to manage shared areas such as lifts, bathroom facilities) 

The model Code of Practice: Work health and safety consultation, cooperation and coordination provides more information about your duties to consult. 

You must consult with your workers on health and safety matters relating to COVID-19. This means you must consult when: 

  • assessing the risk COVID-19 presents to the health and safety of workers 
  • deciding on control measures to eliminate or minimise the risk of exposure to COVID-19 
  • deciding on the adequacy of facilities for the welfare of workers (e.g. hand washing facilities), and 
  • proposing other changes to the workplace as a result of COVID-19 which may affect health and safety. 

If you and your workers have agreed to procedures for consultation, the consultation must be in accordance with those procedures. If workers are represented by Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) you must include them in the consultation process. 

You must allow workers to raise and express their views on work health and safety issues that may arise directly or indirectly because of COVID-19. You must genuinely take the views of workers into account when making decisions and advise them of your decision.  

Do I still have to consult with workers if I am following advice from health authorities?

Yes. You must consult with workers about all the things you are doing to identify and manage the risks to keep workers safe during the pandemic. Workers are most likely to know about the risks of their work, including new risks introduced as a result of COVID-19 control measures. Involving them will help build commitment to this process and any changes you make at the workplace. 

Consultation does not require consensus or agreement but you must allow your workers to be part of the decision making process. You must genuinely take into account their views.  

Some or all of my workers are working from home, does consultation have to be face to face?

No. When you or your workers are working from home you may not be able to consult with them face to face. You must find other ways of consulting with them such as emails, video conferences or calling workers individually to discuss their concerns. 

Make sure you update your consultation policies and procedures to reflect the new arrangements you need to put in place. 

What else do I need to consider?

You must consult with your workers in accordance with any agreed procedures, including involving any HSRs. However, if working arrangements have changed (e.g. workers working from home, doing shifts or changing work groups) you may need to review and update these procedures to suit the current pandemic conditions. This may mean electing new HSRs for different work groups or changing procedures to allow for consultation through electronic communications. 

What do my workers need to know?

You must provide workers with clear direction and guidance about what is expected including:  

  • when to stay away from the workplace  
  • what action to take if they become unwell 
  • what symptoms to be concerned about, and 
  • that workers have a duty to take reasonable care for their own health and safety and to not adversely affect the health and safety of others. 

What other information should I share with my workers?

You must share relevant information with workers about health and safety issues, such as any COVID-19 WHS policies you’ve put in place or updated to taken account of the pandemic conditions (e.g. how to report any incidents) and any changes to emergency plans.  

You must provide this as early as possible and ensure that it can be easily understood by your workers. 

You should also remind workers about contacts to discuss their concerns such as HSRs, and access to support services, including employee assistance programs. 

Is there anyone else I should be talking to?

Yes. You must also consult, cooperate and coordinate with other businesses you work with, or share premises with, about how they will discharge their WHS duties when they interact with your workers. To do this you should:  

  • exchange information to find out who is doing what. For example: 
    • talk to your suppliers about how to safely manage deliveries 
    • talk to other businesses that share your worksite or premises about how to manage shared areas such as lifts, bathroom and kitchen facilities 
    • talk to other businesses that share your worksite or premises about what you will do if there is a case, or suspected case, of COVID-19 at the worksite or premises, and 
    • talk to other businesses you interact with, for example, the onsite food van or the contract cleaner.  
  • work together in a cooperative and coordinated way so risks are eliminated or minimised so far as is reasonably practicable (e.g. how to manage shared areas such as lifts, bathroom facilities) 

The model Code of Practice: Work health and safety consultation, cooperation and coordination provides more information about your duties to consult. 

 

Does my employer have to consult with me? What about?

Your employer must talk to you about things that affect you. They must tell you what they are proposing to do to identify and manage risks to worker health, safety and wellbeing at your workplace. They must give you an opportunity to share your ideas and express any concerns. You are most likely to know about the risks of your work. Your employer must allow you to raise any work health and safety issues or concerns.  

Your employer must consult with you or your representative on health and safety matters when: 

  • assessing the risk of COVID-19 to your health and safety 
  • deciding on control measures to eliminate or minimise the risk of exposure to COVID-19 
  • deciding on facilities for your welfare (e.g. whether hand washing facilities are adequate), and 
  • proposing changes to the workplace which may affect your health and safety (e.g. if you are now working from home this may affect your health and safety in other ways). 

Your employer does not have to agree with you or take your suggestions on board, but they must give genuine consideration to everything you raise with them, and let you know what their final decisions are. 

Is there any other information my employer should be sharing with me during the COVID-19 pandemic? 

Yes. Your employer must also clearly explain to you: 

  1. when you must stay away from the workplace  

  1. what to do if you become unwell, and 

  1. what symptoms to be concerned about. 

Your employer should also remind you about who to talk to if you are concerned, such as your HSR, and where you can go for support services, such as employee assistance programs.  

I spoke up about my concerns and my employer did nothing 

Your employer doesn’t always have to agree with you or implement a control measure you have suggested, but they must genuinely take your views into account when making decisions about worker health and safety. They must also tell you what they decided. 

If you and your employer have agreed to procedures for consultation, they must follow them. If you are represented by an HSR they must be involved in any consultation.  

If after raising a safety concern with your manager or supervisor, you are still concerned about a risk to your health and safety you should speak to your HSR or contact the relevant WHS regulator for assistance.  

Your employer mustn’t ignore you or discriminate against you for raising a safety concern. You may also have the right to stop or refuse to carry out unsafe work. See the section Workers’ rights for more information. 

The model Code of Practice: Work health and safety consultation, cooperation and coordination can provide more information about your employer’s duties to consult. 

I’m working from home, will I miss out on being consulted? 

No. This shouldn’t happen. When you or your employer are working from home they will no longer be able to consult with you face to face but they must find other ways of consulting with you such as via email, video conference or phone. 

I’ve heard my HSR might change, can that happen? 

Yes. If working arrangements have changed (e.g. you now work shifts, have changed work groups or are working from home) your employer may need to review their procedures for consultation to reflect this. This may mean electing new HSRs for different work groups or changing procedures to allow for consultation by electronic communications. 

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