Coronavirus: What happens when an employee tests positive?

3 August 2020

Update: Members are advised to rely on the most recent news stories and Bulletins only, as government advice and regulations will continue to change as the COVID-19 situation develops. The advice below was correct at the time of publication. The latest COVID-19 news is available here.

The VACC OHS&E Unit has compiled a breakdown of what will occur if an employee tests positive.

The steps are listed in priority order, however, some steps can be undertaken concurrently to fast-track the process and minimise disruption to business:

  1. The employer is informed of a COVID-19 positive test case in their business. This will likely occur via the employee themselves. The notification is also supposed to occur from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Victoria, however, with an increased number of cases, some notifications are currently taking up to two weeks
  2. Once informed of a positive test case, employers should close the affected area, or site immediately
  3. The employer must contact WorkSafe Victoria immediately to inform them of a positive test case on 13 23 60. Significant fines can apply for failure to notify WorkSafe of a positive COVID-19 test case in their business
  4. The employer must make their best attempts to keep private the identity of the individual who has tested positive. It is recommended to use non-specific terminology such as ‘we have had a positive test case in our business’ as opposed to identifying individual names when communicating the news to employees, customers suppliers, etc. Please note, you are not obliged to inform suppliers and customers of the positive test case, unless they are identified as close contacts of the infected individual/s
  5. The employer must identify all close contacts of the infected worker as soon as possible. Close contact is defined as (Cumulative 15 minutes face-to-face contact and/or 2 hours in an enclosed room together)
  6. Once all close contacts have been identified, notify those people in a calm and private manner to isolate immediately for 14 days. The contact details of those close contacts will also need to be supplied to DHHS in an excel spreadsheet. This spreadsheet will be sent to you once contact has been established between the employer and DHHS (currently significant delays)
  7. The business does not technically need to notify individuals who were a close contact of a positive case until the employer is contacted by DHHS, however, it is recommended to start the process immediately due to significant delays for employers being contacted by DHHS
  8. The business will need to independently source a cleaning company to conduct a deep clean of the site as soon as possible (contact VACC OHSE Unit if you require assistance in sourcing a cleaning provider)
  9. The affected site should not be re-opened until a deep clean occurs and the business has received clearance to re-open (via DHHS or WorkSafe Victoria)
  10. WorkSafe Victoria will contact the business and request a survey be completed to ensure all relevant COVID-19 control measures have been implemented. They may also visit the site to check that the business has implemented correct COVID-19 safe practices.

If insurers or any other non-government third party is trying to ascertain the details of the COVID-19 positive test case in your business, you are not obliged to provide this information.

This information has been produced into a flow chart for easy printing and use by members, current as of Monday, 3 August. As situation changes, it will be updated accordingly.

Download: VACC flowchart poster (V2, 3 August 2020)

Members should be aware that there is currently no dedicated line for employers to contact DHHS Victoria on their own accord. Through engagement with WorkSafe Victoria on this matter, VACC aims to have this issue addressed in the near future.


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For further information
WorkSafe Victoria
P: 13 23 60

P: 03 9829 1265

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