Federal, State and Territory work, health and safety legislation entitles employees to refuse to work, or to cease work if they have a reasonable concern that they will be exposed to a serious risk to their health and safety from an immediate or imminent hazard.
The same legislation also imposes an obligation on employers to minimise risks to workers’ health and safety so far as is reasonably practicable (where it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate such risks altogether).
People with medical issues (such as comprised immune systems, or other high risk categories) may be entitled to insist upon working from home. Whether you can insist, will depend upon a number of factors including:
- the nature of your job and whether it can be performed from home,
- the measures taken at work to stop the spread of the virus and to protect workers.
If your employer is directing you to attend work, and you consider that there is a serious risk to your health and safety by continuing to do so, you should seek immediate advice from your union or an employment law specialist.
If your employer is taking part in the Jobkeeper scheme, then they will have additional powers to ask you to change your work location. If this is the case, refer to the JobKeeper section of our Know your work rights during COVID-19 FAQs.