Managing staff during a pandemic

Find information on coronavirus (COVID-19) business recovery to help you reopen and grow your business as restrictions ease.

During a pandemic, government agencies and businesses should ensure staff advice and management actions are clear, relevant, timely and accurate in order to:

  • reduce panic and distress
  • minimise staff absenteeism
  • ensure an orderly return to normal operations.

Employers' legal obligations towards staff

As an employer, you have certain legal obligations towards your staff. These include work health and safety, and staff training. Relevant legal obligations should be a part of your business continuity plan for a pandemic.

Work health and safety

The Work Health and Safety Act 2011 requires all employers to provide a safe workplace for everyone who works there or enters it. Significant penalties apply for non-compliance. Read more about keeping your workplace safe.

Personal safety

Employers have a duty of care for the personal safety of staff. A safe workplace involves providing staff with training and equipment to work safely and to respond appropriately to emergencies. This can include personal protection equipment associated with workplace safety during a pandemic, such as gloves and masks.

Read more about personal safety in the workplace.


Staff inductions should be arranged for all new staff (and sometimes staff returning from long absences). Inductions introduce a staff member to your business. What your business requires of them is explained to ensure they understand their responsibilities. Work health and safety inductions should have a high priority.


Your staff are your most valuable asset. It is essential that they have the skills and knowledge to do their jobs properly.

Staff also need to know how to do their jobs safely. You are legally obliged to provide this training. Find out more about legal obligations when training staff.


Staffing arrangements during a pandemic may include telecommuting (working remotely from the workplace). This may be necessary to maintain vital services.

Equipment, technology and technical support need to be in place and in working order. Staff also need to know how to use facilities such as video conferencing. This may require specialist training.

Also consider...