COVID-19 Support


COVID-19 Lockdown and Post-Lockdown Transition

Western Australians look to the public sector to provide certainty and leadership. We are continuing to work with the government and public sector leaders on your behalf to maximise your health and safety as you go about the important business of making WA work. 

Bookmark and check this page regularly for rolling updates and FAQs for members during the hard lockdown period (31 January 6pm - 5 February 6pm) and the return to work Lockdown Transition period beginning Monday, 8 February.

We also encourage all members to regularly check the wa.gov.au COVID-19 Coronavirus Information page for official notices.

Important documents:

All COVID-19 Resources

COVID-19 FAQs

I could not work last week as I had to look after my children. My employer is saying I have to use personal leave, but Circular 2 suggests I might not have to?

The following applies to absences during the lockdown period of 6pm on Sunday 31 January 2021 to 6pm on 6 February 2021 only.

Essential workers:
If you were deemed an essential worker during the period of lockdown, the Stay at Home Directions (No. 3) did not apply to your work and you were required to attend at your regular workplace unless there were extenuating circumstances and alternative arrangements were entered into with your employer. PSLR's Bulletin to Circular 2 states that "employees whose work is defined as “essential” may have good reasons for being unable to attend work over the lockdown period."

You should be paid the amount you would otherwise have been entitled to be paid (including allowances and penalties).

Non-Essential workers:
If you were a non-essential worker and were unable to work from home, you are not required to access any form of leave unless you were already on a period of approved leave or leave that was due to commence during the lockdown period. You should be paid the amount you would otherwise have been entitled to be paid (including allowances and penalties).

Note: Circular 2 does not distinguish between caring for school-aged or children who would otherwise have been in a daycare facility. Provided that the employee's absence from work was due to the need to supervise their child/ren who were not being supervised by another person, they are not required to take personal leave for this absence.

See:
1. PSLR's Bulletin to Circular 2 for more information:
https://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/sites/default/files/atoms/files/2021_02_04_employer_bulletin_-_lockdown_period.pdf
2. Circular 2:
https://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/sites/default/files/atoms/files/pslr_circular_02_2021_0.pdf

Who has to provide my mask?

Under the current direction in place until 12.01am Sunday 14 February, every citizen is required to wear a mask in public and while at work, in both indoor and outdoor settings. Exemptions apply for vigorous exercise outdoors and children 12 years old and under. While employers may choose to provide additional masks to their workforce, each person has the responsibility to provide their own mask and comply with the direction. If they are required to have more extensive PPE, this is the responsibility of the employer.

Are all employees required to return to the workplace? What is the protocol for employees at higher than usual risk?

From 6:01pm Friday 5 February, the government's direction is to encourage all employees to return to the workplace, with appropriate controls and supports in place. Employers are encouraged to work with employees at higher than usual risk, to understand and appropriately mitigate any risks of their return, on the basis of medical advice, individual risk factors, and broader relevant circumstances.

Employees at higher than usual risk are not automatically entitled to an extension of their work from home arrangements during the period of restrictions in place until 12:01am Sunday 14 February. However, employees wishing to extend their work from home arrangements or implement appropriate controls and supports upon their return to the workplace should contact their employer to negotiate appropriate working arrangements. Medical evidence in support of their request will assist in these discussions.

What is the union's position on people who don’t want to wear a mask?

Every person in the Perth and Peel regions must continue to wear a mask in public and while at work until 12.01am Sunday 14 February, unless they are engaged in vigorous outdoor exercise, or fall within one of the other exemption categories listed in the Safe Transition Directions

What about people who can’t wear masks for medical reasons?

As stated in the Safe Transition Directions, where a person has a physical or mental illness, condition or disability which makes wearing a face-covering unsuitable, they are not required to wear a mask. 

  1. However, they should make sure they carry the following documents:
    appropriate medical documentation (eg. medical certificate) as evidence; and
  2. a copy of the Safe Transition Directions made by the Commissioner of Police.

I am medically exempt from wearing a mask. Does my employer now have to approve working from home?

Medical exemption from mask-wearing is subject to the Safe Transition Direction. Following the government's announcement of a return to workplaces, approved working from home arrangements are within the discretion of each employer based on the individual circumstances of the employee. If an employee is medically exempt from wearing a mask, their medical circumstances may also support work from home arrangements during the period of restriction. Employees should contact their direct supervisor to negotiate appropriate working arrangements to accommodate their medical needs. Your union delegate may be able to assist you with appealing work from home arrangements that have been declined in these circumstances.

I am medically exempt from wearing a mask, but I cannot/my employer will not allow me to work for home. Can I use COVID-19 leave?

The WA government's announcement of a return to workplaces following the lockdown ceasing on Friday 5 February supports all employees, even those at higher than usual risk, to return to the workplace with appropriate controls in place. Employers are encouraged to work with employees in this category to understand and appropriately mitigate any risks, on the basis of medical advice, individual risk factors, and broader relevant circumstances.

During the period of restriction, employees are required to wear a mask in the workplace unless they fall within an exemption, in line with the Safe Transition for Western Australia Directions.

Employees who are medically exempt from wearing a mask but are unable to work from home may wish to prepare a workplace COVID-19 action plan in consultation with their medical practitioner. Employers should support the development of these plans, consistently with existing workforce risk management approaches, if an employee chooses to have one.

Employees in these circumstances are not eligible for COVID-19 leave unless they meet one of the other criteria for COVID-19 leave articulated in Circular 6 (such as COVID-19 testing, or awaiting COVID-19 test results).

What is the appropriate advice for when your colleagues aren’t wearing masks, or when the public you serve aren’t wearing masks?

Employees should speak to their colleague or the member of the public who isn't wearing a mask in the first instance, to respectfully remind them of their responsibility to comply with the direction. They may fall within one of the exemption categories. If there is a refusal to comply with the direction and the exemption categories do not apply, employees should report to their immediate supervisor and lodge an OSH hazard report if necessary.

I usually catch public transport but want to take a cautious approach and drive my car to work. Should my employer pay for my parking?

During the period of restriction, employees may choose to catch public transport while complying with the mask-wearing direction, or to take a cautious approach and drive to work at their own cost.

What is the protocol for lunches in the office?

The Face Covering Directions under the Emergency Management Act provide that a person does not have to wear a mask if they are consuming food, drink or medicine provided that they are seated at the time and they are not in a vehicle. There is no central directive from Government regarding lunchtime protocols. Members may wish to clarify with their employer if there are any workplace protocols guiding break rooms and lunchrooms.