Protecting employees & customers during coronavirus

Published 27 May 2020 | Updated 13 November 2020

Creating a safe work environment is a legal requirement for employers. Employees and other workers also need to take care of their own and others’ safety.

Wearing masks at work 

Different states and territories may have different rules about wearing face masks or coverings at work. This can depend on whether an enforceable government direction applies. Make sure you check any enforceable government directions in your state or territory.

Safe Work Australia gives information about what employers can do under the model workplace health and safety laws. This includes when they can direct employees to wear face masks in the workplace.

Check what the rules are in your industry on the Safe Work Australia website external-icon.png.

Face masks in Victoria

People in Victoria need to wear a fitted face mask, covering their nose and mouth, when they leave the house (except in limited circumstances). This includes workplaces. A face mask includes cloth masks and single-use face masks.

For more information and advice, go to Managing coronavirus (COVID-19) risks: Face masks in workplaces external-icon.png on the WorkSafe Victoria website. 

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Victorian Testing Program for some industries

The Victorian Government has announced that some high-risk workplaces for coronavirus in Victoria will be required to participate in a coronavirus testing program. The Surveillance Testing Program requires medium and large employers in some industries to ensure a certain percentage of workers are tested for coronavirus.

For more information, see the Victorian Government website - Surveillance testing for high risk industries in metropolitan Melbourne external-icon.png.

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Temperature checks at work

Safe Work Australia gives information about what employers can do under the model workplace health and safety laws. This includes when they can conduct temperature checks at work.

Check what the rules are in your industry on the Safe Work Australia website external-icon.png.

There may be privacy implications for employers using technology to monitor the health of employees during coronavirus.

For more information on privacy rights at work during the COVID-19 pandemic, go to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner website:

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Protection from discrimination for raising health and safety concerns

Under the Fair Work Act, discrimination happens in the workplace when an employer takes adverse action against an employee or future employee because of particular traits or attributes the employee has. These include the employee’s:

  • race
  • colour
  • sex
  • sexual orientation
  • age
  • physical or mental disability
  • marital status
  • family or carer's responsibilities
  • pregnancy
  • religion
  • political opinion
  • national extraction
  • social origin.

Adverse action includes doing, threatening or organising any of the following:

  • firing an employee
  • injuring the employee in their employment, eg. not giving an employee legal entitlements such as pay or leave
  • changing an employee's job to their disadvantage
  • treating an employee differently than others
  • not hiring someone
  • offering a potential employee different and unfair terms and conditions for the job compared to other employees.

Employers can’t discriminate against employees for raising health and safety concerns. Similarly, employees can’t be dismissed or injured in their employment because they have a responsibility under a workplace health and safety law, such as to quarantine or self-isolate.

More information:

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