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There’s really only one thing on everyone’s mind right now. The dreaded C-word. Whether you call it Coronavirus or the more technical COVID-19, the outcome is the same. We’re all gripped with uncertainty about what’s going to happen (and how much toilet paper we all need.)

simon creek

Simon Creek is a lawyer and social commentator extraordinaire. He joined Jeziel to chat about some of the implications of COVID-19 we may not have thought of. As talk grows of more businesses and services shutting down, there’s a lot of discussion around the economic impact this could have. Jeziel had a few questions, and Simon had more than a few answers.

Will I still get paid if I need to be quarantined?

This will vary from employer to employer, but from a strictly legal perspective, after you run out of sick leave, you must use your annual leave. After that, you then generally go to unpaid leave, unless an alternate arrangement can be worked out with your employer. From then on, things get a bit murky. After a period of time of unpaid leave, your employer may terminate your employment. Legislation varies and is fairly unclear on this, but Simon explains that the general idea is about 3 months.

If my workplace is forced to shut down, what’s the go there?

Again, this would vary by employer. Most importantly, most government positions would have different arrangements. At the end of the day though, it would be unlikely that government functions like schools and public transport shut down for longer than the average annual leave time, and if they did, we’d have bigger problems on our hands. The main concern is with small businesses. For small business owners, it’s a good idea to look at your current arrangements and have an action plan.

What if I choose to travel, despite the advice not to?

If you choose, or are forced to travel, your employer may advise you not to go, or disclaim responsibility for your trip. It’s also extremely important to check your travel insurance. The vast majority of policies won’t cover COVID-19, and if you get sick and need to be evacuated, you could be looking at a bill of $100,000 or more. Simon explained that a few of his staff were scheduled to attend a law conference in Bali, and the company has sent out strong missives disclaiming responsibility for them being there.

What about other services, like public transport. Will that shut down?

Well, the truth is this is fairly new ground. There’s not a precedent for this type of situation, so at some point there will need to be a decision. It will most likely boil down to a fairly simple question of “will continuing this service increase the spread of this disease?”. However, it really is new grounds, and the situation may change for better or worse.

If I have it, or think I might, do I really have to lock myself away?

It may seem a bit rough, even if your results haven’t come back. But, the fact is, if you’re told to isolate yourself, you really really should. A good example would be the patient who was tested, and told to stay home, but went to a concert anyway. While this is still an early example, there are precedents for people to be held accountable for passing on the disease. Simon explained that while most legislation is based on more serious diseases like HIV, an individual can still be charged for passing on a disease.

To hear the whole chat with Simon, check out the podcast below:

 

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