What rights does an employer have when an employee refuses to wear a face mask as part of a government directive in relation to COVID-19? Can we enforce compliance and discipline an employee who refuses to comply?
Employers have obligations under health and safety laws to provide a safe working environment for their employees. To require an employee to where a face mask may be a lawful and reasonable direction to enable employers to follow any government health directives that apply to their business.
If an employee does not follow a lawful and reasonable direction, it is possible to discipline them. However, you should be careful that your actions do not constitute discrimination if the employee has a relevant medical condition that prevents them from wearing a face mask.
If the employee does have such a medical condition, it may be lawful and reasonable to require them to produce medical evidence. However, in some states, such as Victoria, there is no requirement for an individual to produce a medical certificate that states they have a lawful reason for not wearing a face mask.