The rapidly changing pandemic situation has highlighted the need for a continued focus on COVID Safe planning for your workplace. It’s important you continue to keep up to date and follow health advice and any restrictions in your state or territory. Relevant information for each state and territory can be found on the Australian Government website.
It remains a matter for each Federal Parliamentarian to make decisions regarding the running of their respective offices, taking into account health advice issued by the relevant state or territory health authority.
The Minister has previously enabled Federal Parliamentarians to be able to approve working from home arrangements in relation to COVID-19, refer Circular 2020/02.
All States and Territories – advice from the Chief Medical Officer
Risk assessment and COVID Safe Plan
On 7 August 2020, the Acting Chief Medical Officer (CMO) provided advice regarding how the offices operated by Federal Parliamentarians can continue to deliver essential services and to serve the Australian people in a COVID safe manner. A copy of the advice is attached. The additional guidance referred to from Safe Work Australia in relation to undertaking risk assessments is available here.
Ensuring you have a COVID Safe Plan helps protect your workers, constituents and visitors. For offices that are open your COVID Safe Plan must set out:
- your actions to help prevent the introduction of coronavirus (COVID-19) in your workplace;
- the level of face-covering or personal protective equipment (PPE) required for your workforce;
- how you will prepare for, and respond to, a suspected or confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19) in your workplace.
Masks and face coverings
Comcare and Safe Work Australia have provided further information on face masks and managing COVID-19 risks.
As previously advised masks are able to be claimed as an office expense for use within the workplace and limited numbers can be purchased through COS at https://www.cos.net.au/ or you can claim reimbursement if you use your own vendor. Instructions on the correct use and storage of masks should be provided with your purchase. Additional information is also provided at https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/face-masks-covid-19.
For offices that are open you must collect records of all workers, subcontractors, customers and clients attending the work premises for 15 minutes or longer. For example the Victorian Government has provided a useful template.
Stay at Home Restrictions
Consistent with Victorian Health advice, all Victorians are required to work from home, except where this is not practicable.
Employers are asked to ensure that any workers that can work from home are able to do so.
In metropolitan Melbourne, under Stage 4 Stay at Home restrictions, the default position requires all businesses to close unless the workplace is part of a permitted industry. You must follow Victorian Health advice and any restrictions. If your workplace is required to be open you must:
- as the employing Federal Parliamentarian, issue a Worker Permit to yourself and your employees. These permits must be issued to and carried by staff.
- have a COVID Safe Plan that is regularly updated - see information above.
The Victorian Government has confirmed that the work of a Federal Parliamentarian is a permitted industry and falls within Public Administration and Safety. As a Federal Parliamentarian you can use the Permit Template for yourself and your employees where offices must remain open and employees cannot otherwise work from home.
It is suggested that in addition to carrying your valid Worker’s Permit you also carry photographic identification and a business card.
Further information regarding industry specific obligations is available here. Anyone required to leave their home to work must fall within a permitted industry.
Below are some useful links to templates and guidance, including employer obligations for Victoria:
Stage 3 restrictions apply throughout regional Victoria. Please refer to the map of Victoria provided by the Victorian Government to ensure you are complying with the relevant restrictions for your area.
Other States and Territories
Further restrictions continue in other states and territories including efforts to contain outbreaks in NSW and border closures in Queensland. It is important you continue to keep up to date and follow health advice and any restrictions in your state or territory. Relevant information for each state and territory can be found on the Australian Government website.
For anyone requiring support, confidential counselling is available from the EAP to all staff, their family and household members. Finance has also recently launched the NewAccess workplaces coaching support.
If you have any concerns or queries in relation to this information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.