The Western Australian public is back in a (hopefully brief) period of lockdown due to Covid-19.
For business, it’s a timely reminder that this epidemic is far from over yet, and that ongoing diligence is required in all workplaces to ensure the safety of employees and the broader community.
During the prior lockdown, most businesses developed some degree of resilience to this circumstance, and now have policies and procedures in place to carry them through this hiatus in trading. For those that have not developed these – now is the time to start as it may not be the last lockdown before this pandemic is brought under control. Having robust systems ready to accommodate sudden suspensions of trade or large number of staff working remotely will help to minimise risk and ease disruption to the business.
As a brief reminder to all of our clients, the obligations imposed on employers under the Fair Work Act (Cwth) and the Occupational Safety and Health Act (WA) are not magically suspended for the duration of a lockdown. Employers must still consider the safety of physical and mental wellbeing of employees working from home and must ensure that their working environment is reasonably free from hazards. Our previous post on preparing your business during the COVID-19 pandemic can be a helpful guide to get you started. Communication is the key to doing this successfully. Employers need to consider the changes to each role that might arise from remote working, and the individual needs of each employee engaged in remote work. This can be an onerous task, and internal HR departments will need to swing into action with efficient systems to make these assessments and then recommend any necessary changes to operations.
Above all else, let’s remember that it’s a stressful time for all of us – boards, executive and front-line staff alike. A large dose of kindness is the best approach. The actual lockdown period will pass quite quickly, but the impact we may have on relationships with our staff and colleagues at this time will extend long beyond a return to ‘normal’ work. Let’s make it a positive impact.