Coronavirus FAQ


Tuesday 25 March 2020

Q: I have arrived from overseas and as mandated need to self-isolate. Do I get paid?
A: Mercy Connect is not required to pay employees in circumstances where a public health order or other regulation has been issued. Unless you are showing symptoms technically you are no sick hence should not use sick / personal leave per the definition / use of sick leave per the National Employment Standards.

The Fair Work Act does not have specific rules for these kinds of situations, so employees and employers need to come to their own arrangement..

This may include:
1. working from home (if this is a practical option), noting they should review any applicable enterprise agreement, award, employment contracts or workplace policies.
2. taking sick leave, if the employee is sick.
3. taking annual leave.
4. taking any other leave available to them (such as long service leave or any other leave available under an award, enterprise agreement or employment contract).
5. arranging any other paid or unpaid leave by agreement between the employee and the employer.

Q: If am not feeling well and, though I have no recollection of being exposed to COVID-19, I do not feel I should come into work.
A: Staff are to take accrued sick / personal leave but must seek a medical clearance certificate to return if away more than 5 days.

Q: An employee is sent home due to voiced concerns around being around someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19. Can Mercy Connect send me home?
A: Staff can be directed to remain away from work and self-isolate. If staff can get tested, and meet the criteria to be tested, once cleared they can come back to work.

If they don’t qualify for testing they need to self-isolate for 14 days. 

If an employee needs to look after a family member or a member of their household who’s sick with coronavirus, or suffering an unexpected emergency, they’re entitled to take paid carer’s leave.

Q: Do I have to give evidence, or can the organisation ask for it, if I am not feeling well and suspect that I have COVID-19?
The Fair Work Act requires that an employee provide their employer with evidence that would satisfy a reasonable person that the employee is absent due to illness or injury.

The health and safety of the workers is paramount and should not unnecessarily be compromised. A clearance should be obtained before an employee can be returned to the workplace; particularly in relation to COVID-19.

Q: My medical certificate says “Fit to work”. Can I now return to work?
A: Mercy Connect cannot permit an employee to return to the workplace in the following circumstances: has exhibited the symptoms of COVID-19 and/or has been exposed to an individual who has COVID-19.

An employee who has exhibited the symptoms of COVID-19 should be tested and cleared of the virus before returning to work.

Otherwise, the employee should wait 14 days self-isolated and only return to work after if they remain symptom free.

Q: If schools close can I take personal leave?
A: Yes. Carer’s leave is available for those who have accrued personal leave under the definition of immediate family member and/or household member at ordinary hours of work.

Q: Do I have to work with a specific participant?
A: If there are clear and reasonable reasons in refusing to work with specific participants then alternative arrangements may be made; or alternatively, in extreme circumstances, leave can be taken.

However, it is our expectation with PPE provided that staff should be able to work within the organisation as usual.

Q: Can you force me to take annual leave?
A: Mercy Connect can only direct staff to take leave if you have over 10 weeks of leave accrued.

Q: If get bored during self-isolation, what do I do?
Being in isolation can be both stressful and boring. If you have been told to self-isolate, there are many ways to pass the time.

Suggestions include:
1. Keep in touch with family members and friends via telephone, email or social media.
2. Learn about coronavirus and talk with others.
3. Reassure young children using age-appropriate language.
4. Where possible , keep up normal daily routines, such as eating and exercise.
5. Arrange to work from home.
6. Ask your child’s school to supply assignments or homework by post or email.
7. Do things that would help you relax and use isolation as an opportunity to do activities you don’t usually have time for.

Q: What does self-isolate mean?
If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, you must stay at home to prevent it spreading to other people.

You might also be asked to stay at home if you may have been exposed to the virus.

Staying at home means you:
1. Do not go to public places such as work, school, shopping centres, childcare or universities.
2. Ask someone to get food and other necessities for you and leave them at your front door.
3. Do not let visitors in – only people who usually live with you should be in your home.
4. You do not need to wear a mask in your home.
5. If you need to go out to seek medical attention, wear a surgical mask (if you have one) to protect others.
6. You should stay in touch by phone and online with your family and friends.

Q: What does social distancing mean?
A: Social distancing is one way to help slow the spread of viruses such as COVID-19.

Social distancing includes staying at home when you are unwell, avoiding large public gatherings if they’re not essential. Keeping a distance of 1.5 metres between you and other people whenever possible and minimising physical contact such as shaking hands, especially with people at higher risk of developing serious symptoms, such as older people and people with existing health conditions.

 There is no need to change your daily routine but taking these social distancing precautions can help protect the people in our community who are most at risk.

Q: Should I wear a face mask?
A: You do not need to wear a mask if you are healthy.

 While the use of masks can help to prevent transmission of disease from infected patients to others, masks are not currently recommended for use by healthy members of the public for the prevention of infections like coronavirus.



Together we grow.

Trent Dean
Chief Executive Officer