COVID-19 & Employees

March 23rd, 2020
COVID-19 & Employees

In the wake of the latest government implemented lockdowns, businesses are naturally scrambling for answers on so many questions. Many of these are industry and business specific, and many can’t yet be answered properly as we continue to wait for further updates. One question that isn’t varied is a business owners’ obligations regarding their employees. There are two rules that should be followed:

Rule number 1 

In this unprecedented time, both economically and health wise, you must be honest with your business partners and your employees. Being open with your team means taking a bad situation and making it more bearable for everyone involved. 

Rule number 2 

Get advice prior to making any decisions.

The National Employment Standards, Employment Awards, Enterprise Agreements and Fair Work Act have to be considered when making any decision with regards to your employees to avoid any unwanted and costly ramifications.  

As a result of these laws, and when and who they apply to, dealing with employees in a situation like this can be so tricky.  With these laws and the fair work commission skewed in favour of the employee, it is imperative that you do it right.  

Many business simply don’t have the option of working from home like others. For these businesses, dealing with their employees in the right way will be the number one priority at the moment.

Employers can use leave, redundancy, termination and stand down measures, as well as reduce hours and pay. Each comes with its own risk and must be done lawfully. Give us a call or book in a video chat before acting on these options so you can do it knowing that it’s lawful and you’re doing right by your team.

Government regulations are changing daily and everyone’s circumstances are different.  Accordingly, we cannot stress enough the importance of obtaining advice. 

For those of you who are able to keep operating with a team, here are some further C-19 guidelines to consider.

Keeping a healthy workplace

The Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 in Victoria, and similar in the other Australian jurisdictions, mandate the need for employers to provide a safe workplace for their employees.  As an employer there are several measures you can take to ensure that your obligations are met:

– Keep your relevant policies up to date and make your team aware of them

– Monitor the state and federal governments, and other public authorities announcements regarding the virus on a daily basis

– If a team member, or someone connected to a team member contracts the virus, act immediately to advise the other staff as they may need to take self-isolation measures and arrange to have your workplace cleaned and disinfected as soon as possible 

– Where possible, working from home should be encouraged. There are procedures you can put in place as a business owner to keep on top of productivity and ensure that your team are working as they should be

– If you have an ageing or older workforce, or portion of the workforce, you should have genuine discussions with them about what actions you can undertake together to minimise their risk of exposure

Are you or your team already working from home? What have you put into place for productivity (and sanity)? We’d love to hear about it. Join us on Instagram here and Facebook here.

As always, we’re here to talk through any C-19 concerns or questions. Get in touch.

Disclaimer: this cannot be considered legal advice and is general information