Brisbane’s New COVID-19 Lockdown – What Employers Need To Know

Published March 29, 2021 (last updated January 25, 2022) -
Brisbane Lockdown

Employers operating across Greater Brisbane must ensure they are aware of their obligations as the city enters a three-day lockdown, according to Employsure, Australia’s largest workplace relations advisor.

A growing cluster of cases linked to the infectious UK strain of COVID-19, has forced the state government to reintroduce restrictions. As a result, a range of businesses will need to close as health authorities continue contact tracing.

“Just like we saw in Western Australia and Victoria earlier in the year, these short, sharp lockdowns are now the new normal across the country as we deal with these new, infectious strains of coronavirus,” said Employsure Business Partner Emma Dawson.

“Business owners throughout Brisbane must be aware of what this now means for them. If employers in affected industries are told to close, they need to abide by these rules. Not only will they incur a fine if they fail to do so, but they risk the health of their staff, customers, and clients.

“For those who can remain open, they need to direct employees to wear a mask at all times in the workplace. Businesses that can switch their operations by having employees work from home must do so.”

Business owners are being urged to remain vigilant, plan for the worst and hope for the best. If an employee or independent contractor tests positive to COVID-19 over the coming days and has physically been in the workplace while infected, the employer must notify the health and safety regulator as soon as they become aware.

To assist employers in recording and tracking illnesses in the workplace, Employsure has seen engagement numbers in its BrightHR people management software quadruple in the past year. Last week alone employers recorded 171 sicknesses in their workplace, and used the platform to manage the rest of their staff accordingly. This suggests business owners are having to change and react more than ever, and that may take a toll on them and their business.

Having an effective infection control policy that includes identifying and assessing the infection hazards at the workplace, and implementing specific controls can help eliminate or minimise the risk of transmission. These may include physical distancing, regular handwashing with soap, and the use of hand-sanitiser. Appropriate routine environmental cleaning and disinfection should occur regularly at all workplaces.

“These next three days will be crucial for Brisbane as we work to stop this new outbreak in its tracks. Business owners need to ensure they’re meeting their health and safety responsibilities, complying with their legal obligations, and following Government directions,” continued Ms Dawson.

“All employees that can’t work from home must wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth. It should be worn not just for the entire time they are on the clock, but from the moment they step outside their front door. In some circumstances, gloves should also be worn.

“Should a worker or employee fall ill, additional control measures need to be initiated. This includes isolating the infected person, identifying anyone they may have come in contact with, and disinfecting the areas they have been working in.

“Employers may need to direct employees to stay away from the workplace or to obtain medical certificates, and consider whether the employee is entitled to access paid or unpaid personal / carer’s or pandemic leave.

“This lockdown might be extended, or more may occur again. Small businesses should use this time to stock up on whatever PPE is necessary for their workplace. What we don’t want is a large outbreak of the virus as a result of workplaces becoming complacent, or simply failing to follow the rules,” she concluded.

Further enquiries:

Matthew Bridges

[email protected]

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