What options are available?
Employers have a number of tools available to manage their workforce during this unprecedented period. As a result of the significant community impact, and notwithstanding the novel legal environment, it is open to employers to consider both innovative and decisive action.
In formulating the right approach for each business, our team can help you to navigate the relevant legislation, applicable enterprise agreements, awards, contracts of employment, internal workplace policies/procedures and changing government advice and initiatives.
Options that may be available, and should be considered, include:
- asking workers to work from home or from other locations (and appropriate OH&S measures) for a particular time period or until further notice
- adopting different practices in relation to workplace communication, e.g. directing staff to utilise instant messaging applications to minimise face-to-face contact
- implementing work and non-work related travel restrictions
- where permitted, directing employees to take accrued leave entitlements
- responding to requests for long service leave, personal/carer’s leave, leave in advance, leave at half pay and unpaid leave
- reducing or changing rosters, freezing recruitment, standing down employees, and considering rescheduling or reallocating non-urgent project work
- assessing utilisation and reliance on third parties, e.g. contractors, agency workers and casual employees (in general terms, you will have less control and visibility over their exposure)
- considering the viability of redeployment, alternative duties and/or redundancies, and
- responding to requests for ongoing pay in a range of novel situations, e.g. when workers are required to be isolated, choose to self-isolate (whether or not they are displaying symptoms), refuse to perform work, or are unable to attend work due to changed personal circumstances (i.e., caring obligations).
How can we help?
Our Workplace Advisory team is available to work with you to meet the challenges brought about by COVID-19 to keep workers safe and informed, preserve business continuity and rapidly implement practical steps.