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JobWatch Featured on ABC

JobWatch was featured on ABC News on 14 September 2021, commenting on the rights of essential workers with health issues who are worried about going to work and potential exposure to COVID-19.

September 14, 2021

Zana Bytheway, executive director at JobWatch, says employers will likely be within their rights to ask essential workers to attend the workplace providing:

  1. Attending the workplace is permitted by government orders; and
  2. The employer has taken all reasonable steps to make the workplace safe.

“It will be a lawful and reasonable direction to attend the workplace if ultimately the employer has taken all reasonable steps to make it safe,” she says.

Those steps could include social distancing, providing hand sanitiser and making changes to the workplace in line with rules from health authorities, Ms Bytheway adds.

“The exceptions may be that employees, even after that, won’t be able to attend because they have their own health issues or other factors,” she says.

If you have a disability, your employer is obligated under discrimination law to make “reasonable adjustments” to accommodate your needs.

That could include additional flexibility, more time to complete tasks or special equipment.

If you’re unsure whether you should be attending a workplace, it’s a good idea to check the orders in your state and territory. If you suspect your employer is breaching their obligations, there is help available.

Importantly, your employer can still ask you to come to work even if you’ve demonstrated you can work successfully from home.

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