What happens when an employee refuses to return to the workplace?
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Mandatory mask wearing in Melbourne
Charmaine Tsang
Charmaine Tsang is a partner at HFW
Steve Bowler
Steve Bowler is a senior associate at HFW


For thousands of workers, one of the side-effects of covid-19 was that working from home became the norm, and in many cases, the only option. Now, with vaccinations being rolled out, lockdowns coming to an end, and restrictions easing, workers are being encouraged to return to the workplace. But what happens when an employee refuses on safety grounds? What are an employer’s obligations if a worker wants to continue working from home? Can an employer direct workers to return to work, and is disciplinary action justified if the worker refuses?