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:
- 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.
If you provide accommodation for workers you should consider:
- whether to conduct temperature checks on your workers, including before travel to the workplace where possible (e.g. before workers board their flight), and at each roster change
- obtaining some COVID-19 testing kits to be administered by medical professionals at your workplace, if this is possible
- designating areas for isolation and medical treatment of workers displaying symptoms. Consider whether such workers can be relocated from the site altogether, and
- designating areas for isolation of workers who report being a close contact of a diagnosed case of COVID-19.
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 and have received any necessary clearances from the state or territory health authorities.
Workers who have completed a specified 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
- in workplaces where vulnerable people are present, such as hospitals and aged care facilities, or
- if directed or recommended by a state or territory (e.g. under public health orders).
Some states and territories may issue directions for temperature checks to be conducted in specific industries based on the local situation. It is important that you keep up to date with recommendations and directions that apply nationally, and in your state or territory, and ensure that these are followed at your workplace.
It is important to understand that temperature checks alone 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.
It is therefore essential that 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 quarantine 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 specified 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.