This week the Government introduced new measures whereby all international travellers arriving in Australia, including returning residents, must self-quarantine or self-isolate for a period of 14 days from the date of their arrival.
The requirement to self-isolate also applies to persons that have tested positive to COVID-19. See our recent publication on this issue.
What does it mean when one of your employees is required to self-isolate or self-quarantine?
‘Self-isolation’ means staying in your home, hotel room or provided accommodation and not leaving for the period of time that you are required to isolate (currently 14 days). It does not mean coming into the workplace to return keys, pick up work or collect the mountain of online shopping parcels that arrived in their absence.
Only people who usually live in the household should be in the home with a person who is self-isolating. No visitors should be allowed. It is called isolation, after all.
Full-time employees accrue 10 days of sick or carer’s leave each year and they can only use their sick leave if they are unfit for work due to personal injury or illness, need to care for a member of their immediate family or household who is sick or injured; or due to a family emergency.
Employees who are required to self-isolate due to international travel or potential exposure but who are not yet sick, aren’t eligible to apply for sick leave for the quarantine period because they don’t, at the time of taking the leave, have a personal injury or illness that causes them to be unfit for work.
There’s some practical solutions for employers when dealing with self-quarantined employees. For example:
- allowing the employee to work from home (where possible), during the quarantine period;
- allowing employees to use other leave available (such as annual leave, long service leave or any other leave available under an award, enterprise agreement or contract of employment); or
- agreeing that the employee can take other paid or unpaid leave (e.g. personal leave or discretionary paid leave).