What to do when you need ask an essential worker to leave quarantine to work

Three steps for employers to take when asking a worker to leave quarantine

When an employee is isolating because they are a “close contact” of a confirmed case of COVID their employer may, if they are a “Critical Industry” (such as retail bakeries), request the employee to leave quarantine to attend work.

There are some conditions attached to this however:

  • The employee must not have any covid symptoms and must be double vaccinated;
  • The employer must create a “Critical Worker List” and submit it to the Health Department; and
  • The employee must be able to perform their work safely and without risk to other workers.

The three steps for an employer in this circumstance are as follows:

  1. Confirm that the employee does not have any covid symptoms (no matter how mild) and is double vaccinated against COVID before making the request; then
  2. Create the Critical Worker List. This list must include:
    • the business name and details,
    • the titles of the critical roles (you do not need to include the names of individual staff)
    • a reason for why each role is considered critically essential; then
  1. Ensure that adequate masks, other PPE, and Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) are available for the affected worker and their colleagues.

The affected worker should take a RAT daily before commencing work until the isolation period has expired. This will minimise the risk to other workers even further and ensure that the employer can be seen to be taking every effort to provide a safe system of work.

This is a process which can only occur via negotiation and agreement, and compliance to the three steps above, not compulsion. Please remember that an Employer cannot require an Employee to attend work if they are a close contact and no action can be taken against an employee if they refuse to attend work when isolating.

If you have any questions about asking your staff to leave quarantine or IR/HR in general please call the NBIA Membership Hotline on 1300 557 022 or email the NBIA Membership Officer.