Health & Safety and the return to work

The post COVID-19 recovery

Our working lives and society have been transformed by the COVID-19 virus. Thoughts are now turning to the shape of our world after the pandemic.

Our WHS laws aren’t what they need to be. We need parliament to legislate laws that protect all workers, particularly vulnerable workers.

The key asks on parliament are:

  • All workers to have a statutory right to access paid pandemic leave
  • Compulsory notification of both exposure and infection
  • Employers be required to take all practical steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19

As states and the federal government consider relaxing isolation measures, the following reforms are essential to keep people safe as they return to work:

  1. Paid pandemic leave for all workers who have reason to believe that they might have contracted COVID-19. This would allow all workers who believe they may have the illness to get tested and if necessary, take additional time to recover. This entitlement can be provided for 90 per cent of workers by the Morrison Government, but states and territories will be essential to ensuring universal coverage.
  2. A legal obligation on employers to protect their workers and their customers by implementing the highest practical standards and controls for their work, such as physical distancing, to prevent workers from being infected and stop the virus from spreading. This will require new regulation from state, territory and federal governments.
  3. Compulsory notification to local health authorities and work health and safety regulators in all states and territories of any cases of COVID-19 infection that may have been the result of work.

These reforms must be legislated before any relaxation of isolation orders in order to keep working people and the community at large safe from a second peak.

There is more information on Health & Safety here and here.

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