NSW Lockdown – Employers liable if workers take their children to work

Published July 09, 2021 -
Kids At Work

Employers must consider alternative options for employees who need to take their child to work, particularly for those operating during the New South Wales lockdown.

With stay-at-home orders in place for at least another week and schools returning to online learning for many non-essential workers, employers and their staff who are still operating out of necessity may have no choice but to bring their child to work. This is also true for essential workers who might be hesitant for their child to return to face-to-face learning.

Employsure, Australia’s largest workplace relations advisor, is reminding business owners their duty of care under health and safety laws in their workplace applies not only to any worker, but also to others at the place of work which include visitors such as a child. Employers should therefore consider other arrangements for employees who want to bring their child to work.

“Business owners who allow the children of employees to attend the workplace need to be aware that the child would be categorised as ‘others’ at the place of work, and ultimately captured under health and safety legislation,” said Employsure health and safety manager Larry Drewsen.

“A child in the workplace is at a greater risk of injury due to their age and size, and as a result should not be there. If a child were injured in the workplace, an incident report must be logged, and regular WHS processes must take place. If this does not happen, the employer could be at legal risk.”

Employers are advised to use employee management software to log incidents of injury so they have a digital record on hand for both themselves and staff should it ever be needed in the future. BrightHR gives employers access to all their internal documents in a secure, cloud-based system, that can be accessed anywhere, anytime.

Another concern for some workplaces is the possibility of exposing children to potentially contaminated atmospheres, such as businesses where chemicals and fumes are present. Under normal conditions, the regulated maximum workplace exposure levels used by H&S regulators are based upon maximum adult exposure levels and not a child.

“We do not know the potential impact environments where chemicals are present have on children, and therefore they may be at a much greater risk than adults who are exposed to the same level of contaminant,” continued Mr Drewsen.

“Particularly in New South Wales where the risk of COVID-19 is much higher currently, it’s best to remove that potential risk of exposure and keep children isolated. Employers who may have approved the children of staff members to attend the workplace should rethink their approach, or risk being held legally responsible for any illness, injury, or potential death.”

Further enquiries:

Matthew Bridges

[email protected]

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