Colds, Flu and Covid-19 in the Workplace
During winter the levels of colds and flu increase in the community. As the symptoms of these infections are similar to COVID-19 it is important for retail, fast food and warehouse workers to remain vigilant and get tested for COVID-19 at even the mildest of symptoms. This includes isolating until the results of a COVID-19 test are known.
Remember, if you are sick – do not attend work.
The symptoms to watch out for are:
- chills or sweats
- 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 have any of these symptoms, however mild, you should seek advice and get tested. To get further advice, call National Coronavirus Line on 1800 020 080.
Your employer is required to have a COVID Safe Policy which should include procedures to be followed if workers have COVID-19 symptoms. These procedures are in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in workplaces.
Ring your workplace as soon as possible, and inform your store manager or the most senior person.
Try to avoid sending an SMS or message over a social media platform as these may be missed by the recipient.
Try to give as much notice as possible that you are unable to come into work.
Check your SDA negotiated agreement or relevant Award for the specific personal leave clauses.
If you’re not sure what Agreement or Award you are covered by, contact the SDA to check.
If you’re sick, you can’t work at full capacity, and may be risking your safety and that of your fellow workers if you go to work.
It is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that if you feel unwell you do not attend work.
Your employer is obligated to require that you do not attend work or that you leave the workplace if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, so that you can be tested for COVID-19. Once you receive a negative result and you are well enough you can then return to the work.
If your manager insists on sick workers coming into work they will be in breach of the COVID-19 WHS obligations and this may cause germs to be spread to co-workers.
Some employers may say “We can’t replace you… you are going to have to come in.” During the COVID-19 pandemic employers are required to follow COVID-19 directions and COVID Safe Plans. They should not require you to come in while unwell. This is also wrong as it may set back your recovery and going to work is not only unhealthy for you, it’s bad for your workplace.
If you need help please call your local SDA branch for assistance. You can find their contact details here.
Casual workers don’t get paid sick leave, but they receive a higher rate of pay in the form of a casual loading to compensate for this.
Casual workers are entitled to take unpaid sick leave or may be eligible for a COVID-19 disaster payment.
For more information on the Disaster Payment including eligibility click here.
Some Agreements provide for two single-day absences annually without the need for a medical certificate.
After this, employees can be asked to provide either a medical certificate or a Statutory Declaration.
In general, casual employees are not required to provide medical certificates.
While a medical certificate is the best form of evidence, other forms of evidence such as a statutory declaration or as a last resort, a pharmacy certificate may be sufficient.
All these details are in your Agreement or the NES.