Workplace Law News - Corona Virus Update
It seems in the past few days the level of uncertainty for Australians regarding what the coronavirus will mean for business, schools and
like has increased exponentially. For employers, managing the demands of running a business and navigating the many and various obligations
regarding your employees triggered by the pandemic is both challenging and complex.
Short term issues to consider
O’Reilly Workplace Law is working to support our clients through this difficult time. Some of the key issues to consider in managing
your workforce in the short term include:
Taking steps to meet your work health and safety duties. All businesses have an obligation to ensure, so
far as is practicable, the health and safety of their staff. Where risks cannot be avoided, they need to put in place control measures to
manage this risk. What measures is your business taking around things such as:
- Hygiene training and supplies;
- Instructions to staff about whether to come to work, when to stay away and when to self isolate;
- What increased cleaning and sanitising practices are in place
What are the fitness for work issues that arise? What if you don’t stop an infected worker from attending for work?
Taking steps to ensure that you can still service your clients/customers. Whether you are providing professional
services, manufacturing ‘widgets’ or building houses, what arrangements are you putting in place to continue servicing your
Is remote work an option? What agreements and boundaries should you put in place to manage remote work? What if staff are
unproductive working from home and you want to discipline them?
If staff are working from home, their home becomes your workplace with all of the associated safety obligations. What are
you doing to identify and manage these risks?
What about staff who have carer’s/family responsibilities? Can they care for children and work from home? What are the productivity
consequences if they do?
- Do you know what leave entitlements employees will have and when? When will employees be able to take:
- Personal (sick or carer’s leave)
- Annual or long service leave
- Unpaid leave
Have you communicated with your staff about leave entitlements and set expectations?
If your business cannot service its clients/customers, what steps do you need to put in place with staff to minimise the cash flow drain
the current situation presents?
- Agreements for staff to take annual leave
- Agreeing with employees to work reduced working hours with corresponding reductions in pay
What medium term issues need to be considered?
If the impact of the pandemic is likely to have an ongoing adverse affect on your business, have you considered:
- When and if you might implement redundancies?
Does the pandemic present an opportunity to reconsider the make up of your workforce? Are there positions that you might take the
opportunity to reconsider or remove altogether?
- What can you do to minimise the risk of dismissal related claims flowing from redundancies?
- What concessions might be available to you if you are a small business employer?
- Will redundancies trigger pro rated long service leave entitlements?
Action items for employers
Communications and directions to staff to minimise the work health and safety risks of the pandemic – remember, directors and officers
have personal obligations under work, health and safety law
Communications to staff around leave expectations/availability, whether remote work will be available and what the related work from home
performance expectations will be, preparing and putting in place remote work agreements
For remote work, taking steps to ensure employees are, so far as reasonably practicable, safe to work from home
- Planning for the future months
Need support and advice?
O’Reilly Workplace Law are open for business as usual, and with arrangements to work remotely as we need in order to continue
to provide our clients with support and advice during this time..
Denise O’Reilly - Director