COVID-19: Information for employees

Commonly asked questions about COVID-19 and occupational health and safety in your workplace.

This information is correct at time of publication

Also visit coronavirus.vic.gov.au for the latest information about COVID-19.

Speak to your employer about information and requirements specific to your industry.

What your employer needs to do to protect you from COVID-19 risks

Under Victoria's occupational health and safety law, your employer must provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and without risks to the health of their employees, so far as is reasonably practicable. This includes actions to prevent the risk of exposure to COVID-19 at work.

Your employer must identify whether there is a risk to the health of employees, or other people, associated with COVID-19 in their workplace. They must, so far as is reasonably practicable:

  • use appropriate control measures to eliminate or reduce these risks
  • consult with employees and health and safety representatives (HSRs) if any when doing things such as identifying risks and deciding how to control them
  • provide employees with the necessary information, instruction, training or supervision to enable them to do their jobs safely
  • provide employees with information about health and safety at the workplace, in appropriate languages

Your employer must also follow government directions about COVID-19, for example, from Victoria's Chief Health Officer.

What your employer should do to manage the risk of exposure to COVID-19 will depend on:

  • the type of work you do
  • the level of risk associated with the task
  • what is reasonably practicable for the tasks and associated risks, including the availability of supplies
  • current directions, for example directions from the Victorian Chief Health Officer and government advice, for example guidance from the Department of Health

Control measures

Some examples of control measures that may be appropriate to manage the risk of exposure to COVID-19 include:

  • physical distancing where possible
  • changing work practices to reduce contact with other people
  • allowing employees to work from another location, such as at home
  • creating workforce bubbles (for example, by keeping groups of employees on the same shift at a single worksite) to minimise the spread of COVID-19 if there is an outbreak or community transmission
  • increasing cleaning and disinfection in the workplace, especially in high-use areas
  • avoiding the use of shared phones, desks, tools and equipment
  • encouraging everyone in the workplace to practise good hygiene and providing things such as handwashing facilities and hand sanitiser
  • ensuring employees do not attend work when unwell and having plans in place if an employee develops symptoms while at the workplace
  • allowing extra break time to follow hygiene procedures
  • keeping records of workers and visitors who come to the workplace
  • where required, providing personal protective equipment (PPE), and information and training on why the PPE is required and how to use it safely

If you are worried about how COVID-19 risks are managed at your work

You have the right to be safe at work. If you are worried about how your workplace is managing the risk of COVID-19, you can talk to your employer or HSR (if you have one) about the controls in place.

If you are still concerned about your health and safety, you could:

  • follow your workplace's issue resolution processes
  • contact WorkSafe's advisory team on 1800 136 089
  • seek advice specific to your circumstances, including from employee organisations, legal providers, or official advice issued by the Department of Health or other government agencies

Your health and safety responsibilities

As an employee, you have a duty to:

  • take reasonable care of your own health and safety in the workplace
  • take reasonable care of the health and safety of others in the workplace
  • cooperate with your employer about any action they take to comply with a requirement under the OHS Act

This means you must cooperate with any reasonable policies or directions by your employer to reduce COVID-19 risks, even if you are working from home.

To protect others, you should follow the steps below if you feel unwell, or think you may be a close contact.

What to do if you feel unwell

The symptoms of COVID-19 to watch out for are:

  • fever
  • chills or sweats
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • shortness of breath
  • runny nose
  • loss or change in sense of smell or taste

Some people may also experience headache, muscle soreness, stuffy nose, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.

If you are unwell, no matter how mild the symptoms, you should stay at home and get tested.

If you have any of the symptoms of COVID-19, no matter how mild, you should:

  • self-isolate immediately
  • get tested at a nearby testing location and then return home immediately
  • wait for your test results - stay at home and do not go to work or go out shopping
  • seek further advice if you need it from your doctor or the Victorian Coronavirus Hotline on 1800 675 398

You should also:

  • tell your employer as soon as possible
  • follow your workplace procedures
  • update your employer if the situation changes, for example if you receive a positive COVID-19 diagnosis

Close contacts of someone confirmed to have COVID-19

Remember to check in everywhere, every time with the Service Victoria QR Code app. This helps with contact tracing.

If the Department of Health identifies you as a close contact

If Department of Health contact tracers identify you as a close contact, you should not go to work. Follow the directions the Department of Health gives you.

You should also:

  • tell your employer as soon as possible
  • follow your workplace procedures
  • update your employer if the situation changes, for example, if you receive a positive COVID-19 diagnosis

If you think you may be a close contact

If you think you have had close contact with a person with COVID-19:

  • you should contact the Victorian Coronavirus Hotline on 1800 675 398 immediately
  • you should stay at home and not go to work until the Department of Health contact tracers determine if you are a close contact
  • if the Department of Health contact tracers determine that you are a close contact, you should follow the directions the Department of Health gives you

You should also:

  • tell your employer as soon as possible
  • follow your workplace procedures
  • update your employer if the situation changes, for example if you receive a positive COVID-19 diagnosis.

Information in your language

For information about WorkSafe in your own language, call our Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) on 131 450.