The Workplace Relations Comission has confirmed that workers who self- isolate as a precautionary measure to prevent the potential spread of the potentially fatal COVID-19 virus are not entitled to sick pay.
This announcement was made by the Workers Relations Commission as a notice for employers and employees who are somewhat ambiguous about what to do when dealing with the workplace and the new virus.
The commission then went on to emphasize the fact that the Safety Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 does place a general responsibility on employers to:
“ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety, health and welfare at work of his or her employees.”
The Safety and Welfare act also requires employees to be sure that they are not potentially putting other people in the workplace at risk for their safety.
Although the WRC knows that adhering to these guidelines without being paid can be a financial burden, it maintains that self-isolation is the best method to protect the country from a potential outbreak.
The commision has, however, confirmed the fact that agreements between employers and employees in regards to illness- related abscence will be dependent on the conditions of their employment agreement.
However, when the terms of an employment agreement do not lay out a plan for sick pay, the WRC states that
“There is no statutory entitlement for an employee to be paid by their employer in the event that they are absent from work.”
Until more is known about the virus, and a better method of prevention or treatments is found, workers are faced with the difficult dilemma that is deciding whether or not to self-isolate at their own expense to prevent a potential pandemic.
Employees can only hope that their employer will be flexible when it comes to absences and dealing with the prevention and spread of the COVID-15 virus.