Employers must remain vigilant during lockdowns in QLD, WA, NT and NSW

Published June 28, 2021 -
Darwin Lockdown

Business owners in several capital cities across Australia must ensure they are aware of their obligations under the latest COVID-19 lockdowns, according to Employsure, Australia’s largest workplace relations advisor.

Growing concerns over positive cases have forced authorities to introduce a four-day lockdown in Perth and Peel, which will last until Saturday, 3rd July 2021. The same concern is being felt in the NT, where lockdown restrictions have been extended in Darwin, Palmerston and the rural area until 1pm Friday.

A three-day lockdown also applies to residents in South East Queensland, Townsville (including Magnetic Island) and Palm Island from 6pm Tuesday 29 June 2021, while Greater Sydney and surrounding regions remain in lockdown until 11:59pm, Friday 9th July 2021.

As a result, a range of businesses must stay closed, or operate in a limited capacity for longer, as health authorities continue contact tracing.

“This is the first lockdown Darwin, Perth and Sydney have had to endure for a while, and it will come with a significant financial impact on business,” said Employsure senior employment relations advisor Michael Wilkinson.

“Business owners will be feeling anxious, given the fact there is no more JobKeeper wage subsidy support to help prop them up. They will be hit hard by this, and more support packages should be considered to help them through it.

“Some businesses are resilient and have gotten good at shifting operations online where applicable, but for others, these restrictions, while needed to help stop the spread, could break them.”

By now, employers should know what a lockdown 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 (unless an exemption applies) and ensure their COVID Safe Plan is regularly reviewed and implemented. Businesses that can switch their operations by having employees work from home must do so.

Business owners should 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 health authorities as soon as they become aware.

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.

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.

“There is no disputing that action is required to stop the spread of the virus, particularly given the highly contagious nature of the strain,” continued Mr Wilkinson.

“To help restrictions ease as soon as possible, business owners need to ensure they meet their health and safety responsibilities, comply with their legal obligations, and follow government directions.”

Further enquiries:

Matthew Bridges

[email protected]

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