Your rights and responsibilities

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Your safety and PPE 

Last updated 20 March 2020.

Please note the advice provided on these pages is intended as general advice. If you have specific concerns, please contact the Duty Officer to discuss your particular circumstances by email

Additional information can be found at the Department of Health website.

A. Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws require employers to take every step, so far as reasonably practicable, to eliminate or minimise the risk of workers and others contracting COVID-19. This will require employers to have a COVID-19 work plan containing a range of control measures.

Employers must genuinely consult workers and unions on measures to control the health and safety risks of COVID-19. Workers should be provided with clear direction and guidance about what is expected of them, in particular:

  • workers should know when to stay away from the workplace
  • what action to take if they become unwell, and
  • what symptoms to be concerned about.

We know that the most effective action employers can take is to ask employees to identify potential exposure to COVID-19 and to financially support them to self-isolate with paid special leave. This is something the ANMF is currently advocating for.

A. Consistent with your employer’s obligations under WHS laws, if you are providing care for patients who have or are suspected to have coronavirus, your employer must provide you with appropriate PPE to ensure you can do your job safely. The PPE must be commensurate with the level or risk faced by an employee in terms of the duties they perform and the direct environment in which those duties are performed.

Your employer also has an obligation to ensure you are trained in how to use PPE safely

The Department of Health’s current guidance on the appropriate use of PPE is available on its website and includes specific advice for health workers.

If you have concerns that your employer is not providing you with the necessary PPE or training, you should initially escalate your concerns to your manager/supervisor then if not address to contact the Duty Officer by emailing with details of the issues you are experiencing.

A. Some areas of the health care system are likely to experience high demand because of the coronavirus (for example Intensive Care Units, emergency departments and pathology laboratories). While employers can ask their employees to work additional hours, those additional hours must be reasonable.

As the pandemic worsens, it will be critical that employers manage the fatigue and general wellbeing of employees. This will usually be in accordance with workplace specific Fatigue Management Systems. Employers should consider all available options to meet increased or changed service needs, including offering additional hours to part-time and casual employees, offering paid overtime or time-off-in-lieu arrangements or engaging additional resources.