Employees have a right to be consulted regarding their return to the office following the pandemic, in accordance with Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) requirements. We have seen employers recently planning to transition back to in-person work, they must prioritize the health and safety of their employees.
The employer has a duty to consult with employees (you!) and Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) under section 35 of the OHS Act. Consultation must be genuine and allow meaningful input. It must take place before a decision has been made. This includes consultation on identifying hazards or risks and decisions about how to control risks associated with COVID-19.
Meaningful consultation with employees plays a critical role in identifying potential hazards, evaluating risks, and implementing necessary measures to create a safe working environment
The consultation stage is your chance to put forward your demands for control measures. If you’re not happy with the consultation you can run your own, run a survey and organise a meeting with staff in your workplace to gauge attitudes and get people on board. Present your consultation and staff demands to management. Consider collecting evidence of hazards or incidents in the workplace by filing incident reports.
Consulting employees ensures their voices are heard, allows for open dialogue, and promotes a collaborative approach to address any concerns or gaps in the OHS framework and remember its your right under the ACT!