Operations

Your guide to operating through COVID-19 restrictions

By Beatrice Thomas

During COVID-19 lockdowns and subsequent interim period restrictions, businesses are forced to rethink the way they operate. CCIWA outlines ways to work through COVID-19.

 

A snap lockdown or COVID-19 restrictions can affect businesses differently -  from directing staff to work remotely to finding safe and effective ways to manage staff in the workplace.

To help you navigate the rules, we've answered your key questions and compiled the resources you need to help your business during this time.

What restrictions are in place for my business?
Perth and Peel's lockdown measures include:

  • Masks are mandatory, except while at home and during vigorous outdoor exercise. Other exemptions apply, including for people with certain health conditions, disabilities and primary school-aged children and younger.
  • Stay at home, except for the following reasons:
    • For work if you are an essential worker or service provider;
    • For purchasing essential goods including food, groceries, medical or necessary supplies within 5 kilometres of home or at the closest practicable location;
    • For one hour of exercise per day within 5km of home with up to one other adult from your household or any number of children from your household;
    • For medical or healthcare purposes, including looking after the vulnerable or to be vaccinated.
  • A regional boundary will be in place around Perth and Peel. Travel to other regions is restricted to exempt reasons only. Anyone who has been in Perth or Peel since June 27 must continue to wear a mask.
  • School and childcare centres remain open, with masks required except for primary school children or while teaching.
  • Private gatherings are not permitted; visitors are only allowed in homes for essential services, critical maintenance, caregiving or compassionate reasons.
  • Hospitality venues are restricted to takeaway only.
  • Non-essential retail is restricted to click-and-collect or delivery only.
  • The following must close:
    • Beauty salons, hairdressers etc.;
    • Fitness and recreational venues;
    • Casinos;
    • Nightclubs;
    • Entertainment venues;
    • Playgrounds
    • Skate parks;
    • Outdoor recreational facilities;
    • Higher education; and
    • Religious gatherings or and/or places or worship, cultural institutions.
  • Visits to aged/disability care centres are prohibited, except for essential care, compassionate reasons, end of life and advocacy.
  • Visits to hospitals are prohibited, except for compassionate reasons (e.g. end of life, accompanying a child, supporting partner giving birth. Priority 2 and 3 elective surgeries will be postponed.
  • Community sport is cancelled.
  • Public events are not permitted.
  • Up to five people are allowed at weddings, for compassionate reasons only.
  • Ten people are permitted at funerals.

 

All these measures will be reviewed regularly, and the Chief Health Officer will continue to monitor the serious situation and provide more ongoing advice. Visit the State Government’s COVID-19 site for further information.

The State Government has uploaded its directions for the lockdown, which provide further information on when people may leave home to attend work.

Do I need to continue using a contact register?
Businesses are required to ensure a contact register is available at each of their venues, prior to the post-lockdown period, and will need to continue to make those registers available.

It is also mandatory for individuals to check-in at businesses required to keep a contact register. Individuals could face penalties if they fail to check-in.

What are the rules around masks?
During a lockdown, masks are compulsory indoors and outdoors, in the workplace and on public transport. 

Exemptions include: 

  • whilst at home;  
  • while in a vehicle with members of your own household;  
  • if necessary to communicate, masks may be removed whilst talking. Writing notes, pointing or the speech to text app, where possible, are encouraged;  
  • children 12 years of age and under do not need to wear a face mask;  

People don’t need to wear a mask at work if the nature of the persons occupation means wearing a face covering:  

  • is impractical to perform that occupation; or  
  • It causes a risk to their health and safety.  

People also don’t need to wear a mask if:   

  • it causes a risk to their health and safety; and  
  • in an emergency.   

Can I require employees to work from home?
The following workers whose work is critical to the continued operation of the following services, and who cannot practicably work from home, may attend work in person:

  • Essential provider*
  • Essential health services*
  • Funerary or mortuary services or related activities
  • Bakeries
  • Emergency services including SES, fire-fighting, paramedical, ambulance, medial retrieval including RFDS, police, military and defence
  • Essential infrastructure and services without which the safety, health or welfare of the community or a section of the community would be endangered
  • Member of the public service of WA who is critical to or involved in the COVID response
  • Roadside assistance
  • Government or local government services
  • Domestic and commercial waste and resource recovery
  • Journalist and media services
  • Factory or facility that is not able to shut down without causing damage or loss to the plant and equipment
  • Mining for the purpose of critical maintenance and to avoid significant losses (limitation on FIFO mobilisation from affected area)
  • Building, maintenance or construction services where services are immediately necessary for safety or welfare reasons, critical maintenance and to avoid significant losses
  • Administrative services provided by an employer to enable its employees to work from home
  • Organisations that provide urgent services necessary for the health and safety of any person, animal or premises
  • Public transport including taxis, rideshare and other public passenger services.
  • Air transport
  • Port operations
  • Transport, freight or logistics driver
  • Blood bank
  • Care services for people with particular needs
  • Truck stops and roadhouses
  • Heavy vehicle regulator
  • Production and distribution of food and groceries, liquor, medical and pharmaceutical products
  • Retail for the purposes of fulfilling click-and-collect or click-and-deliver orders.
  • Commercial operations that supply goods or services for the implementation of measures to limit the spread of COVID-19
  • Teachers and essential school/boarding school staff
  • Primary industries to the extent necessary to ensure supply of food to, and care of, animals and maintenance of crops.

A list of Essential Providers and Essential Health Services can be found here.

Can I stand down workers if they can't work? Do I have to pay their wages?
National system employers not covered by an enterprise agreement or contract of employment that deals with stand down, may be able to lawfully stand down some or all of their employees, where the following applies:

The employee cannot be usefully employed because of one or more of the following:

  • industrial action (other than industrial action organised or engaged in by the employer;
  • a breakdown of machinery or equipment, if the employer cannot reasonably be held responsible for the breakdown; or
  • a stoppage of work for any cause for which the employer cannot reasonably be held responsible.

These stand down provisions under section 524 of the Fair Work Act do not require employers to pay employees that have been stood down, for the period of stand down. However, staff still need to accrue leave during this time, in the same way they usually would.

If an employer is covered by an enterprise agreement or contract that deals with stand down due to the reasons outlined in s524 of the Fair Work Act, then the Fair Work Act stand down provisions don’t apply and instead the employer must follow their agreement or contract. Where this is the case there may be additional considerations and obligations to take into account, such as payment of wages during stand down periods.

Stand down during COVID-19

In the context of COVID-19, a stoppage of work beyond the employer’s control may include a business closing because of a government directive or a stoppage of work due to lack of supply or stock (i.e., builders are unable to source building supplies because of disruptions in supply chains resulting from COVID).

Annual leave

When standing down employees, it is common for employers to advise their workers that they may apply to access their accrued annual leave entitlement to cover all or part of the period.

Where an employee does so, they are not considered to have been stood down for the period of leave. If your staff are covered by an enterprise agreement or contract of employment, there may be additional obligations that need to be considered.

NOTE: There are a range of considerations that need to be taken into account before standing staff down. These include flexing hours, reducing hours, agreeing to or directing staff to take annual leave, accessing paid or unpaid pandemic leave.

 

What do I pay staff if they are not allowed to come to work?
In the case of a COVID-19 lockdown, the question of what to pay your staff if they are not allowed to come to work depends on a range of factors.

These include:

  • if your staff member is able to work remotely;
  • if you are able to lawfully stand them down; and
  • if your staff member is not able to attend work because they are required to self-quarantine and/ or are awaiting COVID-19 test results, then payment may be different again.

Payment, if there is an entitlement, may include normal wages, personal leave, annual leave, annual leave at half pay or paid pandemic leave. In some cases, the period may be treated as unpaid pandemic leave, unpaid leave or unpaid stand down.

Entitlement to pay and leave during the lockdown should be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Do I need a safety plan to reopen?
When re-opening after a lockdown period, certain businesses will be required to have, or update, a safety plan.

They will also need to display a safety plan certificate in their venue. These businesses include:

  • hospitality venues, including hotels, pubs, bars and clubs;
  • Restaurants, cafes and food courts;
  • theatres and entertainment venues;
  • Hairdressers, beauty salons and other beauty-related venues;
  • Places of worship;
  • Auction houses;
  • public venues, such as galleries, museums and libraries;
  • Community, recreation or youth centres;
  • Play centres, whether indoor or outdoor;
  • Swimming pools; and
  • Perth Zoo.

What is a safety plan?

A safety plan is a plan that addresses how the business ensures that:

  • physical distancing guidelines will be implemented;
  • required hygiene standards will be maintained;
  • staff will be appropriately trained or educated; and
  • an exposure or suspected exposure of a person to COVID-19 will be managed appropriately.

What is a safety plan certificate?

A safety plan certificate is a certificate that states:

  • the number of patrons who can be accommodated at the place; and
  • records the agreement of the owner, occupier or person apparently in charge of the place where the safety plan ce1iificate is displayed to maintain the WA Government's safety measures.

Note: Information about preparing safety plans, as well as safety plan certificates, are provided at the following website.

What are the rules around COVID-19 testing?
If an employee is unwell and/or awaiting COVID-19 test results, they must not attend work.

How, or if, they are paid for this period will depend on a range of factors including:

  • whether the employee is well or ill;
  • if they able to work remotely; and
  • if they covered by paid pandemic leave.

Employee is unwell

Personal leave can be taken by an employee if they are ill or injured and have met notice and evidence requirements.

If your employee is not able to work because they are sick and they have met notice and evidence requirements, they may be able to access their accrued paid personal leave during such periods.

Some industrial instruments (modern awards, enterprise agreements) provide for paid pandemic leave which may cover payment for staff in these instances. Staff generally cannot access paid pandemic leave if they can use paid personal leave.

Employee is well

If the employee is well but can’t attend work because they are awaiting their test results, if they can work remotely, then they should do so and be paid their usual wages.

If they are well but can’t work remotely, then they may opt to take authorised unpaid leave or annual leave or, where they are covered by an industrial instrument that provides for unpaid or paid pandemic leave, they may be able to access this leave type.

CCIWA offers two COVID-19 eLearning modules as part of its eLearning library. We can also customise an eLearning program for your business.

For more information or to get our experts to review your COVID policies contact CCIWA’s Employee Relations Advice Centre on (08) 9365 7660, or email advice@cciwa.com.

See CCIWA's COVID-19 site for more resources and up-to-date information.

      Tools and resources

covid-19 safety
WFH pack
remote working template

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During COVID-19 lockdowns and subsequent interim period restrictions, businesses are forced to rethink the way they operate. CCIWA outlines ways to work through COVID-19.

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