COVID-19 and the workplace: Australia

Content Summary

Vaccinations and the workplace

Jabs and Jobs webinar

A CPA Australia recorded webinar with Lander & Rogers law firm to assist you in understanding how COVID-19 and regulation is impacting the workplace.

Resources for employers

A template you can download and edit to suit your needs.

A guide to assist in formulating and implementing a COVID-19 vaccination policy and the steps your organisation should take.

Current workplace arrangements (current as at 26 January 2022)

State / Territory Masks Where to work  
NSW (the NSW government also provides a large variety of posters and signage for business)

Masks compulsory in indoor settings including offices.

Employers can allow staff to work from home at their discretion

 
Victoria Masks are compulsory in indoor settings including offices. Workers are strongly encouraged to work from home if possible. Workers that are not fully vaccinated must continue to work remotely.
Queensland

Masks are compulsory in all indoor workplaces including offices.

 

Media has reported that Queensland authorities have asked employers to return to work-from-home arrangements where possible.

 
WA

Masks are compulsory in all public indoor venues in the Perth, Peel and South West regions.

No recommendations  
SA SA Health strongly recommends wearing masks in indoor workplaces.

No recommendations

 
Tasmania

Masks are compulsory in indoor settings including offices.

No recommendations 

 
ACT

Masks are compulsory in indoor settings including offices.

Workers are encouraged to work from home where it suits the employee and employer to do so.  

 
NT

A person must wear a mask while inside any premises (including offices), where they cannot maintain a distance of 1.5 metres from other people

 

No recommendations 

 
 

What happens if there is a COVID outbreak in your workplace? (current as at 26 January 2022)

State / Territory Confirmed cases Other workers  
NSW workplaces

Seven days isolation commencing on the day of testing. 

Workers can return to work when they have completed the isolation period and they don't have a sore throat, runny nose, cough or shortness of breath.

Employers are no longer required to notify Safe Work NSW if a worker contracts COVID-19. However, SafeWork NSW expects businesses to be diligent in reporting any hospitalisation, and any fatality, where the worker contracted COVID-19, or is likely to have contracted COVID-19, at the workplace.

Employers must advise other workers and contractors who may be a contact of the COVID-positive person (noting the privacy and confidentiality of the person who tested positive.

Close contacts must quarantine for seven days from the last time they were in contact with the COVID-positive person. They should have a rapid antigen test as soon as possible and again on day six. If all tests are negative, they can leave isolation on day seven.

Some critical workers may be permitted to leave quarantine to attend work if they have no symptoms and have a negative rapid antigen test.

All other contacts, including workplace contacts should monitor for symptoms and if they develop, undertake a test.

 
Victorian workplaces

Anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 must self-isolate for seven days after the date they got tested.

The workplace must identify and inform other workers who are contacts (including sub-contractors, but not customers).

Employers are required to notify the Department of Health if they have five or more persons diagnosed with COVID-19 within seven days.

Close contacts must quarantine for seven days. They must get tested as soon as possible and again on day six.

Some critical workers may be permitted to leave quarantine to attend work if they have no symptoms and return a negative rapid antigen test each day for five days before attending work.

For all other contacts, including workplace contacts, if symptomatic they must have a test. If not symptomatic, they are recommended to use a daily rapid antigen test for five days.
 
Queensland workplaces

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 must isolate for seven days from the date they tested positive. If they have symptoms on day seven, they must isolate for a further three days. 

Close contact must quarantine for seven days from when you are told or find out that you are a close contact of a diagnosed person. It ends after seven days from the date the diagnosed person took the initial test that returned a positive result, and the person has a negative test on day six and has no symptoms.

Some critical workers may be permitted to leave quarantine to attend work if they have no symptoms and are fully vaccinated. They must be tested using a RAT kit on their first day before starting work, and on every second day after that, until day six of their quarantine period

There are no quarantine requirements for other workplace contacts.

 
WA workplaces (WA has not yet agreed to follow the nationally consistent definition of ‘close contacts)

A confirmed case of COVID-19 must isolate for 14 days.

Close contacts of a confirmed COVID-19 case must quarantine for 14 days.  
SA workplaces (the SA definition of ‘close contact is different to the national definition) A confirmed case must isolate for ten days after their first positive test, unless otherwise advised by SA Health.

Close contacts of a confirmed COVID-19 case must quarantine for seven days since they last had contact with a positive person. They must also get tested immediately and on day six. A negative test on day six is required to be released from quarantine. 

Some critical workersmay be permitted to leave quarantine to attend work if they have no symptoms and return a negative rapid antigen test result at the start of every shift.

No information can be found on other contacts, therefore there is no quarantine requirements on such people.

 
Tasmanian workplaces

A confirmed case must isolate for seven days after their positive test result.

Confirmed cases must tell their employer if they worked onsite while infectious.

Close contacts must quarantine for seven days. They must get a rapid antigen test immediately and again on day six.

Some critical workers may be permitted to leave quarantine to attend work if they have no symptoms and return a negative rapid antigen test result every day they return to work during the quarantine period.

Your employer will tell other employees and contractors who are workplace contacts. Such people must monitor for symptoms and get tested if symptoms develop. If so, they must isolate until they get a negative test result.

 
ACT workplaces

Everyone who is diagnosed with COVID-19 must isolate for at least seven days (day of test collection is day zero) until cleared to leave isolation by ACT Health.

Close contacts of a confirmed COVID-19 case must quarantine for seven days from the last date of exposure to the person who has COVID-19. Such people must have a test as soon as possible and again on day six. 

The ACT Chief Health Officer may, in writing, grant an exemption from quarantine requirements. Email a brief outline of exemption requests to [email protected]

People that have spent some time with someone who has COVID-19 (for example a dinner) should have a test as soon as they can and stay at home until they receive a negative result. They should have test on or after day six.

Other casual contacts should monitor for symptoms  

 
NT workplaces

A confirmed case who is fully vaccinated must isolate for seven days from the day they had their COVID-19 test and returned a positive test result.

Those not fully vaccinated must isolate for ten days.

 

Close contacts of a confirmed COVID-19 case must quarantine for seven days if fully vaccinated and 14 days if not fully vaccinated.

Some critical workers may be permitted to leave quarantine to attend work if they have no symptoms, are fully vaccinated and have a rapid antigen test each day before attending work.

 

Guidance from the Fair Work Ombudsman

It’s important for employers and employees to understand their rights and obligations when it comes to COVID-19 vaccinations and the workplace. The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) provides comprehensive information on its website about this topic.

The FWO webpage includes answers to a long list of questions, including:

The Fair Work Ombudsman offers some employers access to free independent legal advice for workplace issues arising from COVID-19 from our Workplace Legal Advice Program. The advice is provided by one of their partner law firms.

Find out more on the Fair Work Ombudsman website.

For information for your industry about work health and safety and COVID-19, visit the Safe Work Australia website. This includes work health and safety requirements for offices.

Mandatory vaccination directions

State and territory governments have made public health orders requiring people in certain industries and occupations to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in their state or territory. Employers and workers need to comply with any public health orders that apply to them.

The current public health orders requiring vaccination in various states and territories can be found on this Fair Work Ombudsman web page. This includes updated vaccination requirements for:

Third dose vaccination requirements for Victoria

Victorian workers in key sectors who are already required to be fully vaccinated with two doses must soon get their third dose before being permitted to work onsite.  

This will apply to healthcare, aged care, disability, emergency services, correctional facility, quarantine accommodation and food processing and distribution workers (excluding retail). Workplaces must sight and record proof of vaccination. It will not apply to workers who have a valid medical exemption.

Workers eligible for a third dose on or before Wednesday 12 January will have until Saturday 12 February to get their third dose.

Workers not yet eligible for a third dose will be required to get it within three months and two weeks of the deadline to receive their second mandatory dose.