Coronavirus: Advice for employees whose bosses ask them to work while awaiting a test result

An employment lawyer says employers could be in "serious trouble" if they force workers to come to work while they're waiting for results from a COVID-19 test.

It comes after it was revealed on Thursday an Auckland student in her 20s tested positive for the virus but the infection isn't linked to the border or a MIQ facility.

She initially called in sick to work after being told she should isolate, but she ended up coming into work wearing a mask after she spoke to her manager.

Employment lawyer Bridget Smith said her advice to employees who feel sick or are isolating while waiting for their test results is to ask their boss if they can use their sick leave.

"If they won't let you use sick leave and they're saying you have to come to work, I would just say stay home. And if they say 'well I'm going to dismiss you', that's not going to be a justified dismissal," she told The Project.

"If you don't have enough sick leave, I would be asking your employer to pay sick leave in advance. Your other option would be to offer to use annual leave, but most employees probably won't want to do that."

Smith said it's important to question "good faith" in this recent COVID-19 case's situation - which is an obligation on both employers and employees - but added there are also risks under the Health and Safety at Work Act for potentially exposing workers to risk.

"I think the Government has made it clear that we should all stay home if we're feeling unwell, get tested, and then the other piece of that is stay home until we get the results of that test because getting a test on its own isn't enough."

She said it "shouldn't be difficult" to have sympathy for the employer of Thursday's COVID-19 case since they're probably concerned about the cost, having to pay someone sick leave and having to pay someone to fill their role for the day.

"But if you look at the bigger picture it's undoubtedly cost them more because now they're closed, they're bearing the cost of cleaning and the reputational damage," she said.

"It really is just a balancing act for employers who are feeling the cost of these lockdowns and employees who want to do the right thing and go to work, but also not expose other people to risk at the same time."

Watch Smith's interview on The Project above.