Victoria Legal Aid

COVID-19 and working from home

Learn about your rights working from home during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Many workers feel unsure of their rights as a result of COVID-19 coronavirus. There are five things you need to know about working from home:

  • if your employer tells you to work from home because it is safer, this is probably legal
  • your employer must make sure it is healthy and safe for you to work from home
  • your employer can tell you to attend your usual workplace if that is lawful and reasonable
  • if you cannot go to work and cannot work from home you might still be paid, but this depends on your situation
  • if you are not sure about your rights, you can get legal advice. See Other support for COVID-19 coronavirus.

Do I have to work from home?

Your employer must follow laws about health and safety, as well as new rules about COVID-19 coronavirus.

If government and health authorities say that anyone who can work from home must work from home, you must do this.

You must do what your employer asks if it is lawful and reasonable. It is probably lawful and reasonable for your employer to ask you to work from home if:

  • it is safer for you or the people you work with
  • that is what is recommended or required by government guidelines or health advice.

If you want to work from home because you are not vaccinated, see COVID-19, mandatory vaccines and work.

What if I must quarantine or isolate?

If you are required to quarantine or self-isolate, you must not go to work. You must not leave your home or the place where you are staying. There are serious penalties for people who fail to isolate or quarantine. For more information about current rules, see the Victorian government’s COVID ChecklistExternal Link or call 1800 675 398.

You can ask your employer to let you work from home during the isolation or quarantine period. Your employer may agree or disagree, depending on the type of work you do and your circumstances. If you are a permanent employee, you may be able to get paid leave.

You may be entitled to payment from your employer or the government if you, or a child you are caring for, must isolate or quarantine at home.

For more information, see COVID-19 and being unable to work.

Do I have to go to work?

If your employer wants you to go to work, you must go if all the following apply:

  • it is lawful. For example, your workplace is allowed to stay open.
  • it is reasonable. This will depend on the type of work you do, and your circumstances. Every workplace is different. What is reasonable in one workplace may not be reasonable in a different workplace.
  • it is safe
  • you do not have to self-isolate or quarantine.

You can refuse to do work that is unsafe.

If you are not sure whether you must attend work, you can get legal advice. See Other support.

How do I make my home safe for work?

Employers must make sure that workplaces are healthy and safe. Employers must take reasonable steps to make sure working from home arrangements are safe for workers.

Workers must also take reasonable care of their own safety when they are working from home.

What is reasonable will depend on your circumstances.

What if I cannot work from home?

If you are a permanent employee and your employer tells you to stay at home, but you cannot work from home, you might be paid your ordinary pay.

Your employer should keep paying your ordinary pay if:

  • you are healthy and want to keep working
  • it is not reasonable to ask you to use your personal leave, such as sick pay or holiday pay.

If your employer refuses to pay you when they should, you can get help from the Fair Work OmbudsmanExternal Link . You can get legal advice. See Other support for COVID-19 coronavirus.

If you are unable to work from home because you are sick, or caring for a child who is isolating or quarantining at home, you may be entitled to:

  • paid leave from your employer if you are a permanent employee
  • government payments.

For more information, see COVID-19 and being unable to work COVID-19 and being unable to work.

More information

Learn where to get Other support for COVID-19 coronavirus

Read our page on Employment and your rights

Fair Work Ombudsman Coronavirus and Australian workplace lawsExternal Link

Acknowledgement

We acknowledge and thank JobWatchExternal Link for allowing us to use their COVID-19: Employment rights Q&AExternal Link to prepare this information. We also thank JobWatch for reviewing this information and providing updates.

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Disclaimer: The material in this print-out relates to the law as it applies in the state of Victoria. It is intended as a general guide only. Readers should not act on the basis of any material in this print-out without getting legal advice about their own particular situations. Victoria Legal Aid disclaims any liability howsoever caused to any person in respect of any action taken in reliance on the contents of the publication.

We help Victorians with their legal problems and represent those who need it most. Find legal answers, chat with us online, or call us. You can speak to us in English or ask for an interpreter. You can also find more legal information at www.legalaid.vic.gov.au

Reviewed 18 May 2022

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