The World Health Organisation has now declared the coronavirus as a public health emergency of international concern.  Employers have a responsibility to provide a safe working environment and ensure the health and safety of their employees.

Employees who have been diagnosed with the virus are entitled to access their personal/carer’s leave entitlements during their absence.  Employees can also access their personal/carer’s leave to provide care and support to their family members.  Employers should request that employees who have been absent with the virus provide a full medical clearance before they return to the workplace.  If an employee has exhausted their personal/ carer’s leave, we recommend you consider allowing employees to access their annual or long service leave entitlements.  If an employee has no leave accruals, you could consider allowing the employee to take a period of unpaid leave.

The Department of Health advises that the most common symptoms are a fever, cough, sore throat and shortness of breath.  If you notice any of your employees experiencing these flu-like symptoms, then as a precaution you should ask them to visit a health practitioner without delay.  These employees should not return to work until they can provide a full medical clearance from their treating doctor.

The Department of Health requires any person who thinks they have been in close contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus to isolate themselves at home for 14 days after their last contact with the confirmed case.  As of 1 February 2020, the Department of Health has advised that all travellers arriving out of mainland China (not just the Hubei Province) are being asked to self-isolate for a period of 14 days from the time they leave mainland China.

As a precautionary measure, we recommend our Members implement additional workplace hygiene practices and cleaning protocols across their workplace, including placing additional hand sanitiser throughout the workplace.  We recommend you take the opportunity during toolbox meetings to remind your employees of the importance of good hygiene practices in the workplace.

We encourage our Members to stay updated with the Department of Health’s updates on their website and if you need any assistance, please contact the TTIA Employers Hotline on 02 9264 0011.

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