As an employer, you have obligations to keep your employees safe. This includes during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. However, how far do these obligations extend when your employees are uncomfortable using public transport to travel to and from work? 

This article sets out:

  • your obligations as an employer; 
  • whether you need to assist your employees before or after work; and
  • alternatives if your employees are uncomfortable using public transport to commute to and from work.

Health and Safety

Under various health and safety legislation, employers are obligated to keep their employees safe while at work. This includes:

  • providing a workplace that is free from health and safety risks; and 
  • monitoring employee health and workplace conditions to prevent illnesses or injuries to your employees.

However, this does not always extend to when employees are travelling to and from work.

For instance, what happens if an employee is injured while commuting to work?

Your responsibility as an employer to this injured employee will vary from state to state, depending on the law. But if an employee contracts a communicable diseases like COVID-19, it is difficult to confirm whether this is an injury caused during a work-related commute, or if the disease was contracted elsewhere. 

Keep Communication Open

State and territory governments are issuing COVID-19 updates daily.  Stay up-to-date on whether it is safe for your employees to use public transport for their commute.

Provided the advice from authorities is that the commute is safe, you should communicate this advice to your employees. 

Alternative Options

If your employees are adamant that they will not commute to work on public transport, regardless of the advice of state or federal governments, you may wish to offer alternative solutions.

  • If an employee is able to commute to work in a private vehicle, you can investigate whether parking subsidies are available at a local car park.
  • You can negotiate with employees to stagger their start and finish times so that they are not commuting in peak travel times.
  • Consider whether the employee can work from home.

It is important to discuss with your employees where their concerns lie and how you can find a solution that is practical for you both. However, ultimately it is important that you have employees who are ready, willing and able to work when and as required.

Where No Alternative is Available

If your employees are concerned about commuting to work for a defined period of time, and no other option is available, you can request that they take leave without pay until their concerns are resolved. 

It is not practical to provide open-ended support to employees. This is especially true in times where your business may be facing a slow down in sales, or reduced revenue. If your employees are unwilling to attend work and as such are not able to perform the inherent requirements of their role, you may look to terminate their employment.

Key Takeaways

Start by understanding why your employees are reluctant to catch public transport when commuting to and from work. Once you understand their reasons, you can consider alternative arrangements that are suitable for both your employees and your business. 

However, it may be necessary to place your employees on unpaid leave or to terminate their employment if no alternative arrangements can be made. If you are concerned about your employees travelling to or from work, or if you have questions regarding your obligations as an employer, our employment lawyers can assist. Complete the form on this page or call 1300 544 755.

COVID-19 Business Survey
LegalVision is conducting a survey on the impact of COVID-19 for businesses across Australia. The survey takes 2 minutes to complete and all responses are anonymous. We would appreciate your input. Take the survey now.

About LegalVision: LegalVision is a tech-driven, full-service commercial law firm that uses technology to deliver a faster, better quality and more cost-effective client experience.

The majority of our clients are LVConnect members. By becoming a member, you can stay ahead of legal issues while staying on top of costs. For just $199 per month, membership unlocks unlimited lawyer consultations, faster turnaround times, free legal templates and members-only discounts.

Learn more about LVConnect

Talia Admiraal
Need Legal Help? Get a Free Fixed-Fee Quote

If you would like to receive a free fixed-fee quote or get in touch with our team, fill out the form below.

  • By submitting this form, you agree to receive emails from LegalVision and can unsubscribe at any time. See our full Privacy Policy.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Our Awards
  • 2019 Top 25 Startups - LinkedIn 2019 Top 25 Startups - LinkedIn
  • 2019 NewLaw Firm of the Year - Australian Law Awards 2019 NewLaw Firm of the Year - Australian Law Awards
  • 2020 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500 2020 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500
  • 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review
  • 2020 Law Firm of the Year Finalist - Australasian Law Awards 2020 Law Firm of the Year Finalist - Australasian Law Awards
  • Most Innovative Law Firm - 2019 Australasian Lawyer 2019 Most Innovative Firm - Australasian Lawyer
Privacy Policy Snapshot

We collect and store information about you. Let us explain why we do this.

What information do you collect?

We collect a range of data about you, including your contact details, legal issues and data on how you use our website.

How do you collect information?

We collect information over the phone, by email and through our website.

What do you do with this information?

We store and use your information to deliver you better legal services. This mostly involves communicating with you, marketing to you and occasionally sharing your information with our partners.

How do I contact you?

You can always see what data you’ve stored with us.

Questions, comments or complaints? Reach out on 1300 544 755 or email us at info@legalvision.com.au

View Privacy Policy