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Source: Etu Union

In brief:

  • You should not be going to work if you get sick.
  • Your employer can’t make you take unpaid leave for directed leave (such as preventative self-isolation after potential exposure to the virus).
  • E tū will support you to make sure you are not unnecessarily out of pocket.

All workers who have potential coronavirus symptoms or who may have been in contact with anyone who may have coronavirus are being asked by the Government to register with Healthline and undertake self-isolation for 14 days as a precaution to help stop the spread of the virus.

Self-isolation means staying away from others, which obviously prohibits attending the workplace in most cases.

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act, all employers have a duty to eliminate or minimise risks and hazards to their workers and any others who may come to the workplace. This means they should not require an employee to come to work if they are required to be in self-isolation.
 
Where staff are in isolation, we argue that the appropriate course of action for employers is to continue to pay them as normal.

It would not be appropriate for an employer to require an employee to take annual leave or unpaid leave where they are in isolation for legitimate health and safety reasons.

In our view, requiring employees to use sick leave entitlement would be unfair as ‘self-isolation for 14 days’ consumes most sick leave entitlement for a whole year.

It may be possible for an employee to work from home and this should be explored.

Employers are obliged to operate in good faith in their employment relationships.  Isolation due to coronavirus is an extenuating individual circumstance and we ask employers to recognise that by allowing the 14 days isolation period on normal pay. 

Further, if an employer directs and employee to not attend work when they are fit and able for work then the employer must pay them for that time away from work.

Bill Newson
National Secretary

MIL OSI