We understand Australian Government agencies and organisations covered by the Privacy Act 1988 are facing unprecedented challenges in combating the spread of COVID-19.

The OAIC has developed privacy guidance for agencies and private sector employers to help keep workplaces safe and handle personal information appropriately as part of the COVID-19 response. This includes:

  • Using and disclosing individuals’ personal information, including sensitive health information, on a ‘need-to-know’ basis

  • Only collecting, using or disclosing the minimum amount of personal information reasonably necessary to prevent or manage COVID-19

  • Advising staff about how their personal information will be handled in responding to any potential or confirmed COVID-19 cases in the workplace

  • Taking reasonable steps to keep personal information secure, including where employees are working remotely.

The OAIC and state and territory privacy regulators have convened a National COVID-19 Privacy Team to respond to proposals with national implications.

We also acknowledge that the impact of the coronavirus may affect the ability of agencies to meet statutory timeframes for processing freedom of information requests. We recommend agencies consider a range of measures to help meet these obligations.

For more advice on the COVID-19 pandemic from Australian Government agencies please visit australia.gov.au 

Employers and workers can find more information at fairwork.gov.au and safeworkaustralia.gov.au

The Global Privacy Assembly Executive Committee has also issued a statement on the pandemic and handling of personal information.

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