COVID-19 has changed almost every aspect of running a business, but the law is often slow to catch up with the real world and particularly the uncertainty of a pandemic.
Many business owners who are employers have struggled to understand what is required of them in relation to their employees and it is easy to become complacent in the workplace when many staff are still working from home or staggering their return to the office.
To protect yourself and your business moving forward, it is important that:
Your rights and obligations as an employer during COVID-19.
Q. Can I make my employees take a COVID-19 test?
A. Generally, you can only require an employee to undergo a medical examination (including a COVID-19 test) if they consent.
Q. Can I make my employees return to work?
A. An employee cannot refuse to return to work if you have given a reasonable and legal direction. However, an employee can refuse to return to work if they hold a reasonable concern about their health or safety. If an employee refuses a reasonable direction to return to work and it is safe to do so, you may be able to take disciplinary action against them.
Q. What are my options if I am unable to keep all my employees?
A. Your practical options are generally:
However, all of the above options must be undertaken with an understanding of employment law generally or you risk making serious legal errors which have serious legal consequences. For example, with redundancy, you will not be able to re-employ someone in the same position post-COVID-19 or the redundancy will not be genuine and you may face legal action by the redundant employee
Q. What are my employees’ rights and obligations during COVID-19?
A. Generally, your employees are entitled to:
Click here to read more about employee working arrangements.
You must still comply with the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), Government health directives and relevant Awards and employment agreements.
Click here to read more about treatment of employees during COVID-19.
It is imperative you do not have a “set and forget” mentality when it comes to managing your business and your employees. Laws are changing almost daily, so you must keep abreast of any changes as they are made and proactively address any potential risks to your workplace. Hillhouse Legal Partners can assist you with this.
If you have any questions about employment law and commercial leasing during COVID-19, click here to find out more.
What to do in the workplace if you have COVID-19 or you suspect an employee has COVID-19?
The currently extraordinary circumstances we find ourselves in make navigating this landscape even more onerous. Please contact Hillhouse Legal Partners if you have any questions or queries on how you can make sure you comply with all employment obligations.
Advice, compliance and timing of actions are critical. We are here to help.
The information in this blog is intended only to provide a general overview and has not been prepared with a view to any particular situation or set of circumstances. It is not intended to be comprehensive nor does it constitute legal advice. While we attempt to ensure the information is current and accurate we do not guarantee its currency and accuracy. You should seek legal or other professional advice before acting or relying on any of the information in this blog as it may not be appropriate for your individual circumstances.