Danielle Stone - HR Professional
With the ongoing challenges of managing a global health issue, it is important to look at what the facts are and how it may impact your business. Aside from the challenge of being able to source sufficient toilet paper, businesses face the prospect of managing employees who many be exposed to COVID-19 despite the strict border controls now in place. Compounding the issue is that this a first of its kind issue and the advice changes daily as the situation evolves and we learn more about the virus and its impact. As your HR Consultants, we advise you keep abreast of the changing advice and remain flexible as you manage the updates and the effect on your employees and your business. To help you, we have an overview that is current as of today.
The test for COVID-19 provides results very quickly. Those who are displaying symptoms, and meet other criteria related to possible exposure, are most likely to have access to the test regardless of how long they have been back in Australia. They do not have to wait 14 days as has been suggested by some media outlets. The virus does not take 14 days to show up in the test – it will show up immediately. Be aware though that if no symptoms are present it does not mean they are all clear but doctors may not test for the virus due to the high volume of requests and the need for pathology to be able to manage the demand.
Currently, the Australian Government has issued to risk levels relating to countries where COVID-19 is present in significant numbers.
HIGH RISK countries include Mainland China, Iran, Italy and Republic of Korea. The advice from the Department of Health is as follows:
MODERATE RISK countries include Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, Thailand with the following advice from the Department of Health:
As an employer, you need to be aware that those who have travelled to or through a Moderate risk country are not obliged, nor can you direct them, to self-isolate themselves. You can ask them to remain at home and if they can perform their work duties from home, they are to be paid as usual. If the work they do does not allow for a work from home option but you ask them to self-isolate and they agree, you will need to continue paying them. It does not constitute personal or annual leave.
Employees who have travelled to a Moderate risk country can only be directed to not attend work without pay (meaning they can be directed to use their leave entitlements) if they demonstrate any symptoms such as sniffing, coughing etc.
If you have a work setting with vulnerable people, employees who have travelled to High risk regions cannot attend work until they have completed the 14 day isolation or have received a negative test result for the virus. Vulnerable people for the purposes of this situation are defined as follows:
HR Staff n’ Stuff highly recommends the following to help minimise the chance of exposure to your team:
As stated earlier, this is a constantly evolving situation with regularly updated advice from the Department of Health as well as your state-based Health and Human Services departments. If you are uncertain and need guidance as to directions you can give to employees, or how you protect the health and safety of those who have not travelled, please contact your HR Staff n’ Stuff team for further advice.
The HR Staff n' Stuff team all contribute to our blogs. Enjoy the read!