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Staff furlough and return to work


Our staff furlough plan outlines what healthcare staff need to do if they receive a positive COVID test or are deemed a close contact.

The information in the table below provides details of the requirements for testing and isolation depending on an individual’s exposure risk, including staff who are deemed a close contact of someone that tests positive for COVID-19.

Staff furlough table


*Revised definition of close contact: All staff who meet the close contact definition and ≥28 days have passed after release from isolation following a recent COVID-19 infection.

In accordance with SA Health's definition of a close contact, a risk assessment* for a workplace COVID-19 exposure should be undertaken for all hospital healthcare workers when:

1. Exposure within 1.5 metres for more than 4 hours cumulative# except when healthcare worker is correctly wearing a surgical mask/appropriately fitted N95 respirator mask.

2. Healthcare workers involved in AGPs without wearing appropriately fitted N95 respirator mask and eye protection.

*Perform a risk assessment on the level of exposure, duration, and/or PPE breach (e.g. transient exposure during AGP when healthcare worker wearing a surgical mask)

#Cumulative in a 24-hour period

Criteria for return to work following a positive COVID test:

  • Asymptomatic COVID-19 staff: You can return to work on day 8.
  • Symptomatic COVID-19 staff: If you do still have symptoms at day 7, you need to remain away from the workplace until your acute symptoms have resolved for at least 24 hours (for a total of 10 days, unless your symptoms finish prior).
  • Symptomatic but no resolution of symptoms: If you are not getting better or have concerns, contact your GP or the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080.
  • Immunocompromised staff will need to be discussed with the Infectious Diseases Team during business hours, prior to return.

Guidelines for staff who are close contacts with no symptoms

When can I return to work if I’m a close contact?

If staff are critical to healthcare service delivery, staff can return to work if asymptomatic and have a negative RAT, provided they undertake strict risk mitigation.

To ensure risks are mitigated, please have a discussion with the staff member about their personal risk of COVID transmission and review risks as laid out in the above table.

If at any point symptoms develop, please get a PCR test.

If it’s not essential for you to be on site and you can work from home, and have the relevant approval, please do so. Please complete the work from home online form for your line manager’s approval.

Who can grant staff permission to return to work?

The following managers can determine whether staff are able to return to work:

  • Medical Head of Unit (or equivalent such as Senior Staff Specialist),
  • Nurse Unit Manager or Nurse Manager,
  • Allied Health Discipline Manager,
  • Senior Business Consultant, after seeking advice from a senior clinical team member of their program,
  • Service manager of non-clinical services, after seeking advice from CWHS.

Advice for Managers in assessing whether a staff member can return to work

Following the day one negative RAT result:

  • Explore work from home options including reallocation of duties or functions across team members to maximise effort and mitigate loss of critical business functions
  • If work from home is not possible due to role:
    • assess the impact of staff absence to unit function
    • activate business continuity planning such as staff deployment across functional areas, reallocation of roles and duties, reduction of or deferral of activity, use of alternate workforce models.
  • Where all reasonable options are exhausted and the staff member is critical to healthcare service delivery, you can return the staff member to critical clinical duties with strict adherence to infection control practices including:
    • eating and drinking alone in designated area preferably outside ensuring >2m distance from others
    • avoiding common spaces
    • no mask removal in presence of others
    • wearing a N95 mask and eye protection at all times within the clinical area
    • avoiding – where possible – contact with highly immunosuppressed patients
    • wearing a N95 mask at all times within the office admin/ blue space areas.

It is important all managers keep a local record of staff who have returned to site for critical clinical duties during period of close household contact.

My child is a classroom contact, can I come to work?

If your child is deemed a ‘classroom contact’ you are able to come into work. We just encourage you to adhere to COVID safe practices, monitor for symptoms and keep up with your COVID-19 RAT surveillance.

For information on the testing, isolating and quarantine for school and OSHC settings click here.

Guidelines for staff who are confirmed COVID-19 positive

I’ve tested positive to COVID-19 – when can I come back to work?

If you test positive for COVID-19, you need to remain away from the workplace for 7 days. You can then return to work as long as you have no acute symptoms including a sore throat, runny nose, cough or shortness of breath in the last 24 hours of day 7 of your isolation.

If you are unwell or symptomatic, you must not return to work. If symptoms continue or if immune suppressed, please consult with your GP for clearance.

You can find more information on the COVID-19 positive result? What to do page. Information about leave is available on our Staff Leave page.

For managers: what to do when your team member is exposed to COVID-19

Here are some steps to follow if a member of your team is exposed to COVID-19:

  • Your team member should inform you they are a close contact or have tested positive
  • Send them the isolation form to fill out
  • If they are able to, your team member can work from home by completing the work from home online form for your approval
  • The team member should follow the testing requirements in the above staff furlough tables.
When can I come back to work after returning from overseas?

All staff who are returning from overseas travel need to have a negative RAT before returning to work.

Hospitals continue to remain a high-risk setting and staff may unknowingly be infectious and be asymptomatic on arrival back into Australia.

This approach balances our need to keep our patients and staff safe, while also providing our workforce the opportunity to return to work as soon as it’s safe to do so.

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