The Australian Taxation Office has said it has "no plans" to close offices or centralise operations in specific locations around the country.
The ATO's most recent pandemic plan, signed off in November 2018, calls for the agency's continuity management team to consider concentrating all functions in specific locations around the country, depending on the severity of the outbreak.
"While the final decision on these sites will depend on the actual situation, [five] national sites have been identified as potential options in advance," the plan said, including offices in Albury, Canberra, Moonee Ponds, Perth and Penrith.
According to the plan, surgical masks have been stored at these locations.
But Jeremy Geale, chair of the ATO's COVID-19 Response Committee, said the agency saw no need to follow this aspect of the plan.
"Based on the most recent advice from health authorities, we have no plans to close any of our offices or centralise any work in selected offices," Mr Geale said.
"We will continue to provide essential services to the public and deliver the government's recently announced initiatives."
The ATO is at the frontline of the federal government's efforts to protect as many jobs and businesses as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is administering the massive $130 billion JobKeeper scheme under which workers in eligible businesses will get a flat fortnightly $1500 payment.
The ATO is also helping eligible people access part of their superannuation, assisting businesses apply for a superannuation guarantee payment amnesty and managing an increase in the instant asset write-off.
The agency has enacted key parts of the pandemic plan, including its call to implement remote working arrangements "where possible".
As at Friday, 11,000 of the ATO's 16,720 ongoing employees were working from home, and an agency spokesperson said it had "implemented social distancing guidelines for those employees who are still coming in to the office".
But the spokesperson said that not all aspects of the pandemic plan would necessarily be followed.
"Broadly speaking, pandemic plans provide a framework to guide organisations responses, but need to be considered in conjunction with the latest advice from authorities," the spokesperson said.
The secretary of the Australian Services Union's ATO branch, Jeff Lapidos, said it would be expensive for the agency to close offices and centralise functions.
"I don't expect that they are actively considering it because of the cost," Mr Lapidos said, referring to costs which also include daily travelling expenses incurred by affected staff.
But he flagged serious concerns that the ATO was not taking seriously its obligations to ensure staff working from home had a safe office environment.
Mr Lapidos said employees were working at kitchen tables, benches and other inappropriate places, often using laptops without ergonomic chairs, proper keyboards, monitors or other important equipment.
He said that while using a laptop for work temporarily was understandable, the ATO needed to make proper arrangements for staff required to work form home on an extended basis.
"There's all sorts of people working in unsafe circumstances at home," Mr Lapidos said.
"If you keep doing it month after month it's likely to have an impact on your neck, your spine, your shoulders, your arms, your hands, your eyes, all sorts of things.
"That's why they have these things set up properly in real offices."
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