Canberra is in Covid-19 lockdown from 12th August. What are your rights at work?
Lockdowns are an important public health measure to keep our community safe. The impact on young workers, particularly the vast majority who are insecurely employed is both intense and extensive. Here’s a quick guide to what lockdown means for your rights at work – whether you are working from home, not working at all or your workplace is open under public health directions.
For advice on the lockdown, public health directions and the rules, please refer to ACT Government advice: www.covid19.act.gov.au.
Your workplace may be required or advised to be closed. You can find out more about the current lockdown, including whether your workplace should be open, restrictions, and what is essential work here: Lockdown in the ACT – COVID-19 It is very important that we all follow ALL public health directions including stay at home orders.
Health and Safety At Work
If you are continuing to work, your health and safety is the most important concern. Employers have a legal duty to protect the health and safety of all workers. This means:
- if your work can be done from home, your employer MUST allow you to do that.
- you must not be forced to work in unsafe or dangerous circumstances (that includes giving casuals the non-option of ‘work in unsafe conditions or you lose your job’).
- your employer must take all reasonably practicable steps to protect your health and safety including controlling the actions and access of customers and clients, enforcing social distancing and complying with and ensuring workplace compliance with any public health directions, providing personal protective equipment (including masks).
- your employer should acknowledge and adapt to your personal health and safety needs and not put you in a position that is dangerous or unsafe for you. If you are immuno-compromised, for example, your employer should make alternative work arrangements for you or allow you to be absent from the workplace.
- your employer should consult with you and your coworkers about matters that affect your health and safety including how the workplace operates and how work is done.
- You can (and should) report ANY workplace health and safety concerns to WorkSafe ACT. You can remain anonymous if you would like to. Use this link to report a workplace concern, problem or incident: Report a Workplace Concern or Issue (act.gov.au). You can also call WorkSafe ACT on 132281.
Continuing to work/ Taking leave
- If it possible for you to do so, your employer MUST allow you to work from home.
- If you are part-time/full-time and can’t work from home, you should be allowed to take leave (refer to your Award/Enterprise Agreement or contact the Young Workers Advice Service for more information: email@example.com)
- If you are part-time/full-time and you are sick with Covid-19, you can take paid sick leave;
- If you are casual, you do not have any normal entitlements to sick or annual leave (one of the many problems with casual work) but there is specific leave that applies for Covid-19 related situations including 2 days of unpaid carers’ leave per occasion to look after a family or household member who is sick with Covid-19. See below under Government Assistance for Lost Income for more.
- You can’t be dismissed from your job because you had to take sick leave or comply with a public health direction.
Government Assistance for Lost Income
The Commonwealth Government has declared ACT an affected area for purposes of income support payments. Read more here: COVID-19 Disaster Payments available for the ACT lockdown | Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme and Minister for Government Services (servicesaustralia.gov.au)
Information about eligibility for assistance can be found at the Services Australia website via this link: Getting help during coronavirus (COVID-19) – If you need a payment – Before you start – payment guide – Services Australia
- Covid-19 Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment – you may be eligible for this payment if you are told to isolate or quarantine or are caring for someone who is sick. Refer to the Services Australia website (link above).
- Covid-19 Disaster Payment – you may be eligible for this payment if you lose work because of the lockdown. Refer to the Services Australia website (link above).
- Crisis Payments – you may be eligible for this payment if you have an urgent need or are in an emergency situation.
More help is available from ACT Government including emergency food relief and mental health support. For more information, go to www.covid-19.act.gov.au