COVID-19: What You Need To Know

This page contains important information about your workplace rights during COVID-19 and financial and health resources, including:

  • Your Rights to a Safe and Healthy Workplace
  • Your Rights if Working from Home
  • The latest COVID-19 Rules from NSW Health
  • How to Access Financial Support
  • Mental Health and Wellbeing
  • What happens if you’re stood down from work

Your Right to a Safe and Healthy Workplace

Any person conducting a business or undertaking (such as an employer) must do all that is reasonably practicable to provide a safe workplace.

Employers are required to have a COVID-19 work plan containing a range of control measures depending on the type of industry you work in. This should include:

  • providing adequate training;
  • providing adequate facilities for the welfare of the worker, including regular cleaning;
  • use of social distancing and face masks when interacting with others, and other control measures to protect workers such as perspex walls to separate workers and others;
  • providing access to information, instruction or supervision that is necessary to provide a safe workplace.

Employers must consult with workers about their COVID-19 plans and before implementing any change that affects your job, your hours or roster, your responsibilities or location of work.

Workers must never be punished or penalised in any way for speaking up about a concern or for asking health and safety questions. This is your workplace right. If you believe safety is lacking in your workplace you should contact your union.

The best way to ensure your rights are enforced and protected is to have the power of a union and a united workforce behind you. 

If you believe your work could be done remotely, and your employer has not provided you with this flexibility, you should contact your union.

Your Rights if Working from Home

Any person conducting a business or undertaking (such as an employer) must do all that is reasonably practicable to provide a safe workplace. This condition of Workplace and Health Safety rules applies when you are working from home. This can include providing you the equipment you need to safely perform any duties you are required to carry out while working from home, such as an ergonomic computer, desk and chair set up. 

If you have spoken to your employer and you believe they are still not doing what is reasonably practicable to support you working from home please contact your union. 

Restrictions and Case Locations

For the latest information from NSW Health on what you can do in regional and rural NSW, additional restrictions in Greater Sydney and face mask rules visit this NSW Health website

How to Access Financial Support

A COVID-19 Disaster Payment is available for eligible people in a COVID hotspot. Information is available on this Commonwealth Government website or through your local Services Australia service centre. 

If you lose work you may be eligible for a JobSeeker support payment. Find out if you’re eligible and claim the payment here. 

A financial assistance payment is available if you can’t earn an income because you must self-isolate, quarantine or care for someone with COVID-19. Find out if you’re eligible and claim the payment here.

If you taken a test and are told to isolate while awaiting your test results you can claim a $270 payment if you live in an area of concern. Find out if you’re eligible and claim the payment here.

If you’re having difficulty paying your household energy bill may be able to claim $50 vouchers for your energy bill. Find out if you’re eligible and claim the payment here.

Other assistance may also be available for both individuals and small businesses. Use the NSW Government COVID-19 Assistance Finder or Commonwealth Government Payment Finder to find out what assistance you may be eligible for. 

Mental Health and Wellbeing

It’s important to look after your mental health and wellbeing, especially when there are restrictions on movement and contact with others. Four simple and proactive steps you can take are to exercise regularly, stand up at regular intervals if you’re sitting for extended periods, keep in contact with colleagues throughout the day and get some fresh air in by taking walks in your local area.

Beyond Blue has created a dedicated COVID-19 mental wellbeing support service here. Check it out.

What Happens if I’m Stood Down from Work?

The Fair Work Act contains provisions in which employers can stand down staff in certain situations, such as when a business is forced to close because of a government direction.

During a stand down period, employees remain employed, are entitled to access their accrued leave entitlements, and will continue to accrue leave entitlements, such as annual leave and sick leave. Some Enterprise Agreements will contain different provisions for stand down.

More information about stand down can be found here. If you have specific questions, contact your union for more information. Unions NSW can help you to work out which union covers your work.