Can you make staff take a COVID test?

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Eve Vasilas.

The global pandemic has caused a great deal of uncertainty for businesses, raising many questions they have not had to ask before.

As interstate travel from WA resumes and potential exposure to the virus increases, employers need to consider the best ways to protect their workplaces from COVID-19.

CCIWA discusses what your rights as an employer are around the issue.

At work

If your worker is displaying flu-like symptoms in the workplace, a company is within their rights to send them home and direct them to get a COVID test, Senior Employee Relations Adviser Eve Vasilas explains.

“If the employee is coming into work and you can see that they are sick, it would be a lawful and reasonable direction to send them for a COVID test,” she says.

As per government guidelines, that worker would be required to self-isolate until they receive their test results.

If you have genuine concerns that person has been exposed to the virus, you must:

-Isolate the person

-Call the COVID helpline (1800 020 080)

-Ensure they can travel home safely

-Inform those who have interacted with that person

-Assess your workplace’s risk management plan

At home

If one of your workers is displaying COVID-19 symptoms while working from home, they should adhere to State Government guidelines.

West Australians are advised to get tested if they experience any COVID symptoms, as early as possible and self-isolate until they get their results.

WA’s COVID clinics are listed here.

Travel

It is crucial workplaces stay up to date with the latest government guidance on travel to WA from interstate or overseas.

Depending on the level of an area your worker comes from, they may need to self-isolate or spend 14 days in a quarantine hotel and present for at least one COVID test during that time.

If they enter WA from a very low risk area, they will be subject to a health screening upon arrival but not a mandatory test.

Vasilas says employers should consider what was reasonable when it came to making employers get tested.

“If they have come from somewhere that has got zero cases, then you have to question yourself whether it is reasonable,” she says.

“Some mine sites have mandatory COVID testing every time you go on site whether you have been interstate or not, so it depends (on the workplace).”

Leave considerations

While a worker is waiting for their COVID test results, they may still be well enough to work remotely.

If they are too unwell to work or it is not possible for them to work from home, Vasilas says employers should check whether their workers needed to be paid while on pandemic leave.

“It really depends on the specific award that applies to them, as some of them have unpaid pandemic leave and some have paid pandemic leave,” she explains.

You can check the Fair Work Commission’s variations to awards during COVID-19 here.

Eve Vasilas.

The global pandemic has caused a great deal of uncertainty for businesses, raising many questions they have not had to ask before.

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