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Can my boss make me download the COVIDSafe app?

Can your boss make you download the app? Images: Getty, Australian government
Can your boss make you download the app? Images: Getty, Australian government

Around 3.5 million Australians have downloaded the coronavirus-tracing COVIDSafe app, but the prime minister has urged millions more to install the app in a bid to prevent future outbreaks.

Scott Morrison has described the app as a key element in allowing Australia to reopen, warning that the “coronavirus is still out there” during a press conference on Friday.

“We need that [COVIDSafe] tool so we can open up the economy, and that's why it's so important. So if you haven't downloaded the app yet, download it,” he said.

“If you know someone who hasn't downloaded the app yet and you have, encourage them to do so, because if you're doing that, then that is enabling the National Cabinet to be able to ease these restrictions next Friday.”

But can you be forced to download the COVIDSafe app?

No, and that means your boss can’t force you to download it, either as a requirement to come back to an office space or just as a general workplace rule.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) said while the app has “wide acceptance as a useful tool”, you can’t be required to download the app onto either a personal or company-owned device.

“Nor can an employer take action against you for reasons that include a failure to download the app. You should contact your union immediately if you have been disadvantaged at work for failing to download the app,” the ACTU said.

But that doesn’t mean your boss can’t encourage you to download it, Morrison said.

“It can't be a requirement, that's prevented under the legal arrangements, but we are encouraging... it within the Commonwealth public service,” he said.

“The state governments will be encouraging it within the state public services to encourage the employees to download the COVIDSafe app. And there is nothing wrong with that.”

Additionally, he said cafes, restaurants and pubs offering takeaway will likely be encouraging their patrons to download the app.

“Because if you download the COVIDSafe app, then more businesses will be open, and that's it, so it's done on the basis of encouragement in the national public health interest.”

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