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Warning to workers who don’t want to return to offices

3AW Breakfast
Article image for Warning to workers who don’t want to return to offices

Workers who don’t want to go back to the office could be sacked if they refuse to return when directed to do so.

The warning comes as Victoria awaits a state government decision on when worker capacities in offices can be boosted.

Senior associate from Maurice Blackburn, Patrick Turner, says employees must return if doing so is “lawful and reasonable”.

“(If) you were to refuse there is a risk that your employer might pursue disciplinary action from a warning through to dismissal,” he warned.

But some workers may have cause to refuse a return to the office.

“You might have some compelling reasons why a return to the office might not be safe for you in this still slightly unusual environment, and if that’s the case there might be other avenues available to you to challenge the situation,’ Mr Turner told Stephen Quartermain and Emily Power, filling in for Ross and Russel.

“People do still have the right under the Fair Work Act to request flexible working arrangements, which can include working from home … in particular, those arrangements are available to people who have caring responsibilities or are over 55.

“Given the vulnerability of people who are over 55 to the virus, that might be an option to them.”

Mr Turner urged anyone who believes their return to work may not be safe to contact their union or a lawyer.

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