COVID-19 in the workplace – Information for employers and employees

Information for employers and employees to prevent and manage COVID-19 in their workplace.

There are additional requirements for workers in high-risk settings who are COVID-19 cases or close contacts. Information for high-risk settings, in addition to general workplaces, is outlined below.

High-risk settings include aged care facilities, residential care facilities such as disability care and mental health residential facilities and health care settings.

Preventing spread of COVID-19 in the workplace

To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in the workplace, employers should implement the following strategies:

  • Have a COVID Safety Plan
  • Promote infection prevention and control principles, including:
  • Wear face masks as required under current public health and social measures. Consider wearing masks when physical distancing cannot be practised.
  • Promote COVID-19 vaccination for all eligible staff and contractors.
Advice for staff members who develop COVID-19 Symptoms

If a staff member develops symptoms consistent with COVID-19 (such as fever, runny nose, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat or loss of taste and/or smell) they should:

  • get tested for COVID-19, even if symptoms are mild
  • If their COVID-19 test is positive, they should isolate at home and inform their employer.
  • If their COVID-19 test is negative, they should stay home until their symptoms resolve.

Information for people who test positive for COVID-19 is available at What to do when you test positive for COVID-19 (healthywa.wa.gov.au)

Guidance for managing COVID-19 is available at Managing COVID-19 at home and in the community (healthywa.wa.gov.au)

Employers are encouraged to accept the following as evidence of COVID-19 infection by employees:

  • Photograph of their positive rapid antigen test (RAT). 
  • PCR test result from My Health Record.
  • PCR test result text message. 
  • Text message link to survey that COVID-19 cases receive following a positive PCR test or RAT result that has been registered on HealthyWA. 
Return to work for COVID-19 cases
  • Workers who do not work in a high-risk setting can return to work when they have completed their required isolation period.
  • Workers in high-risk settings (aged care facilities, residential care facilities and health care settings) must not enter the high-risk setting until it has been 7 days since the date the positive test was taken (and their acute symptoms have resolved).
  • Evidence of a negative test or a clearance certificate is not required and will not be provided by COVID testing clinics.
  • Workers do not need to be tested for COVID-19 within the 4 weeks after they have completed their required isolation, including if they have COVID-19 symptoms, are told they are a close contact, or for workplace screening.
Advice for close contacts attending work

A close contact is:

  • a household member or intimate partner of a person with COVID-19 who has had contact with them during their infectious period
  • someone who has had close personal interaction with a person with COVID-19 during their infectious period, where they spent 4 hours of cumulative contact with them in a residential setting (including a home, residential care facility, boarding school, maritime vessel or other accommodation facility) in any 24-hour period where masks have been removed by both people during the period of contact
  • someone who is informed by WA Health that they are a close contact.

Guidance for close contacts attending work

  • Close contacts should work from home, where possible.
  • Close contacts with symptoms should not attend work. If symptoms develop while at work, they should be advised to return home immediately to isolate and be tested. They should follow the advice for close contacts with symptoms at HealthyWA.
  • Close contacts who do not have symptoms and do not work in a high-risk setting may attend work if they:
    • Return a negative RAT result before leaving home each day
    • Wear a mask at all times (noting that the usual exemptions apply)
  • Close contacts who do not have symptoms and work in a high-risk setting (including aged care facilities, residential) should follow advice outlined for high-risk settings below.
  • Close contacts are strongly encouraged to:
    • Avoid non-essential gatherings and contact with people at risk of severe illness
    • Notify their employer, educational facility or early learning centre of their close contact status. 

High-risk settings

Asymptomatic workers in high-risk settings may attend work in the 7 days after becoming a close contact by adhering to requirements below:

  • advise their employer that they are a close contact, and receive confirmation from their employer that they agree to the person attending work,
  • return a daily negative RAT prior to leaving home,
  • actively monitor for symptoms,
  • leave the workplace and return home immediately if they develop symptoms or test positive,
  • only remain at the high-risk setting for the purpose of their work duties,
  • wear a surgical mask at minimum (in addition to other PPE the employer reasonably requires),
  • not share break areas with any other person in the high-risk setting, and
  • use reasonable endeavours to maintain a physical distance of 1.5m from other people in the workplace. 

Refer to COVID-19 Infection Prevention and Control in Western Australian Healthcare Facilities available at COVID-19 information for health professionals for the management of PPE breaches in a health care setting.

Check the HealthyWA website for the latest advice on what to do if you are a close contact.

Last reviewed: 19-09-2022