Minimising the spread of COVID-19 is crucial, part of this is achieved by keeping employees safe and well at work. This should be done before thinking about the interests of the business or organisation.

Obligations

Employers have obligations pursuant to the Work Health and Safety legislation to ensure the health and safety of its staff. Similarly, staff have obligations to ensure their own health and safety and the reasonable health and safety of others. If your employee suspects they may have COVID-19, they should be directed to notify their supervisor at the earliest possible opportunity.

It is important to categorise employees as follows:

No COVID-19 risk – meaning the employee can work as usual.

COVID-19 risk and the employee cannot work – meaning the employee should be placed on sick leave to attend to their health.

If the employee is fit to perform employment duties, but there is a risk of COVID-19

The employee will need to self-isolate to avoid spreading the COVID-19. If possible and practicable, allow them to work remotely from home.

If your employee has recently returned from overseas, specifically from a high-risk country, you should direct them to seek the advice of a medical professional and self-isolate for a compulsory 14days before they return to work.

Can I take sick leave if I’ve been asked to be in self-isolation?

An employee who is sick, or who needs to care for a spouse or dependents who is sick, is entitled to paid sick leave under the Holidays Act 2003.

Is an employer within their right to ask for a medical certificate from an employee during this time?

In New Zealand workplace regulations continue to give employers the right to request a medical certificate from a worker who has been on sick leave for at least three consecutive days, as proof of their illness and as clearance that they are fit to return. Any agreements made should be recorded in writing, even if simply by email or text.

If you need any help or guidance around what to do during this pandemic feel free to reach out to us and we can help create a policy or guideline on what steps you can follow and enforce within your workplace so you and your employees can stay safe. Please contact the Hello Monday team at 09 377 5200.