Individuals and businesses worldwide are continuing to adjust to the ‘new normal’ in the COVID era.
Our hearts go out to all affected and we wish anyone impacted by COVID-19 a safe and healthy recovery.
When COVID-19 first threatened Australia the priority at BTLawyers was to protect the safety of staff and our community. You, our clients and colleagues, are our community. We appreciate that our clients want clarity in this time of crisis. We have collated a raft of information which we believe will be useful to our community.
This is a fast-moving area with evolving challenges that continue to shape our future. We will continue to update and add to the information as new developments arise.
The new workplace
Public health advice is to practice social distancing. One measure which businesses are implementing is to enable staff members to work from home. Employers are subject to the same occupational health and safety obligations whether their employees are working from home or the office. In order to reduce or eliminate potential liability for workplace incidents employers should require employees who are going to work from home to complete the working from home self-assessment checklist (click here to Download editable Word Doc). We encourage you to download this form and apply your logo to it.
It goes without saying that the best compliant measure in minimising the risk of exposure to COVID-19 within the Workplace is directing workers to work from home. However, not all employers can facilitate this measure and employers need to be proactive in the face of the many risks associated with employees working from home including psychosocial hazards.
For a comprehensive overview of employer duties relating to the associated risks of employees working from home, we suggest that our employer community head to the Safe Work Australia webpage.
With the relaxing of COVID-19 restrictions for most States and Territories since early May 2020, employers will be well advanced in transitioning their employers back into the ‘new normal’ workplace. Implementing the necessary transition measures can be overwhelming. We encourage our employer community to consult and follow the advice of elected health and safety representatives to ensure compliance in this every changing climate. Employers may find guidance from the material published by Safe Work Australia.
Unfortunately, about two thirds of Australian businesses are unable to provide their employees with the opportunity to work from home and a significant number of those businesses face catastrophic financial times. This outlook has seen a huge number of employers terminated recently. That number is likely to increase.
It is important for businesses to be aware of the options and obligations available to them. A brief summary of these issues can be found here.
Stimulus initiatives – 21 July 2020
In an effort to support economic recovery, the Federal and State Governments have extended and tailored economic measures .
A summary of the most recent stimulus initiatives for businesses and employers can be found here.
Update as at 21 July, 2020:
On 21 July 202, the Australian Government announced the extension of the JobKeeper Payment. The payment, initially due to end on 27 September 2020, has been extended for eligible businesses until 28 March 2021. The policy aim of this extension is to support the retainment of employees rather than termination during this extraordinary time.
Changes to insolvency laws – as at 7 September 2020
On 7 September 2020, the Government announced that the temporary changes to important elements of Australia’s insolvency laws has not been extended to 31 December 2020.
A summary of these changes to insolvency laws because of the Coronavirus can be found here.