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Coronavirus And Work

The Coronavirus pandemic has resulted in an extreme and significant disruption to our usual way of living. Almost overnight, most of our lives were turned upside down, and although South Australia has demonstrated a gold-standard response to the pandemic, many of us remain extremely anxious about what the future holds.

Many in the community remain worried about the short-term and long-term impacts of the Coronavirus on our employment. In an ideal world, employees and employers should work together to achieve workable and mutually-beneficial solutions for their individual circumstances. But sometimes this does not or cannot occur. Some businesses will need to adopt significant changes in the way they operate, and this could have an adverse impact on many employees.

Many businesses and workers affected by the pandemic may be eligible for financial support provided by the Government. For example, the JobKeeper initiative should incentivise employers to retain their staff, even if a significant down-turn in business is experienced. However, this scheme is complex and not every business or worker will be eligible to benefit from this initiative.

The Government has made variations to many industrial Awards to provide greater flexibility for ‘unpaid pandemic leave’ as well as flexibility to take other forms of leave. But many employment-related questions remain during this difficult time. For example:

  • Can I be made redundant because of the Coronavirus
  • What if I run out of sick-leave
  • What if I contract Coronavirus from a colleague at work
  • What if I have been directed from my boss to self-isolate, or what if my boss requires me to come to work even if I think it’s too risky
  • I’m only a casual worker – what are my rights
  • Can my boss stand me down
  • Can I refuse to work at this time
  • What if I need to care for sick family members
  • What if I need to care for my children because schools are closed
  • Etc?

Issues involving the pandemic are very complex, and the situation is changing almost daily. South Australians are fortunate insofar as we seem to have weathered the storm quite well compared to other Australian and international communities. But these are scary times indeed.

If you have any work-related query, or if your employment has been impacted by the pandemic, you should contact one of our expert Industrial Lawyers immediately.


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*Please note: Websters lawyers is a South Australian based law firm, handling matters exclusive to South Australia, with offices located in Adelaide, Ridgehaven and Smithfield.

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