Returning to the Workplace Safely – A Guide for Employees

Information for employees who have been working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic about returning to the workplace safely.

Purpose

This guide aims to assist you to safely transition back into the workplace if you have been working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It addresses the following areas:

  • Preparing to return to the workplace
  • How to safely transition back into the workplace

This document is designed as a guide only and covers commonly occurring workplace scenarios. If you require support to address specific situations not covered by this guide, please see the ‘Advice and Support’ section in this document.

Principles of returning to the workplace safely

This guide is based on the Five Core Principles:

  1. If you are unwell, you must not come to work (even for perceived mild illness). If you have COVID-19 symptoms, you must get tested.
  2. If you want to and can continue working from home, and this is appropriate for your role (where clinically and operationally possible), this option will be considered by your manager
  3. Physical distancing must be observed in the workplace at all times (preference is to work in separate enclosed spaces, only where practicable)
    • provide 4m2 of space per person in the Work Area, and
    • maintain at least 1.5m between people
  4. You must always practice effective hand and personal hygiene
  5. You must clean high touch surfaces regularly and effectively

Further detail on these principles is outlined in the sections below (where required).

These principles are also applicable to employees that have been working on-site throughout the pandemic.

Higher risk employees

If you are a higher risk employee (i.e. you are at higher risk of serious illness should you contract COVID-19), you should discuss your return to work plan with your manager. Resources are available on the Monash Health COVID-19 Website.

COVID-19 Employee Enquiries can also be emailed to support you in this process.

Preparing to return to work

Your manager will be undertaking a Work Area Assessment before your return. This is to ensure that your work area is safe and any necessary changes can be put into place before you return to your work area.

There are three key actions that you must complete to prepare for your return to work:

  • Have your flu vaccination (provided free to Monash Health employees) or complete the declaration form
  • Complete your hand hygiene training (recommended for all employees and required for employees who are patient-facing) and Personal Protective Equipment training (employees who are patient-facing). These are available on Latte (PPE Infection Prevention – Transmission Based Precautions (Online) & Hand Hygiene — select module applicable to your role).
  • Have a return to work conversation with your manager to discuss how best to transition back to your work area, including an agreed start date and work pattern. Your manager will record this conversation (Appendix 1) and will give you a copy.

Safe transition back to work

Please return to work on the date and time agreed with your manager. If you need to change your return to work plan, discuss this with your manager as it may have an impact on the return to work plan for others in your team.

On your first day back in your work area, arrange a time with your manager (or their delegate) to complete the Returning to the Workplace Safely Employee Checklist. This can be found in Appendix 2.

People and Culture may also support you with this transition.

Illness

You must not come into work if you are unwell, even with mild illness. If you present to work with illness, you will be sent home immediately.

If you have symptoms that meet the current DHHS testing criteria you should present to a Screening Clinic and self-isolate as soon as possible.

If you are well enough to work from home, and your job enables you to do so, this may be an option, subject to manager approval. Otherwise, you must take sick leave as per the usual process.

Call the Monash Health Employee Hotline Number on 9594 5815 (external) or extension 45815 (internal) if further advice is needed.

If you are screened for COVID-19, you must advise your manager of the result as soon as possible so they can take appropriate action, if required.

Hand hygiene

Hand hygiene is about cleaning your hands frequently and appropriately after contact with objects using either hand sanitiser or soap and water. Ensure the entirety of your hands (palms, fingers and back of hands) are covered with hand sanitiser or soap and water. There are posters available from health.vic and displayed across Monash Health with the steps outlined on how to wash your hands.

Personal hygiene

Reducing the transmission of COVID-19 is assisted by good personal hygiene which includes:

  • avoid touching your eyes, nose and face
  • sneezing or coughing into tissues or if tissues are not available sneeze or cough into your elbow and wash your hands after
  • no shaking of hands (or other contact)
  • avoid cash transactions use ‘tap and go’
  • frequent hand hygiene with soap or hand sanitiser appropriately
  • clean and disinfect objects your use often such as mobile phones, keys, wallets and work security / ID tag

Surface hygiene

Guidance regarding principles and products is available in Returning to the Workplace Safely – Cleaning your workstation. As a general rule, at the start and end of every day, you must wipe down your desk, keyboard, devices, mouse, screen and any other surface you have contact with during your workday. Hot desks must be cleaned before and after each use. Hand hygiene is essential before and after cleaning your workstation. It is also required that you log cleaning the Cleaning Record Sheet available in the aforementioned documentation.

Advice and support

Your manager should be your first contact for planning your return to the workplace or regarding any concerns you have once you have returned.

You can also discuss any general workplace issues with your local Health and Safety Representative or People and Culture Business Partner. Please contact the OH&S Advice Line on 9594 6140 if further advice is needed.

Individual and team support resources are on the Monash Health COVID-19 Website Health and Wellbeing page.

Infection Prevention can assist with issues related to cleaning regimes.

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