Here are some answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding the latest restrictions in place for Construction and Maintenance across the ACT, Greater Sydney, the Sydney LGAs of Concern and regional NSW.
Have a question you want answered? Please send your questions to the team at TLA on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: I/one of my team live in an LGA of concern and do work on occupied sites (renovations and maintenance). Can I/they still work?
A: Residents from the LGAs of concern may only carry out prescribed work (including repairs, renovations and maintenance) in occupied sites within their own LGA. If doing so, they must comply with the rules and regulations in place such as wearing face masks and having no more than 5 workers on site (outdoors) at one time. Workers from within the LGAs of concern are not permitted to carry out renovation or maintenance works on occupied sites outside of their LGA.
Q: Can workers from within an LGA of concern work in regional NSW?
A: No. At this stage, workers from LGAs of concern can only leave their own LGA to perform construction work (on un-occupied sites) within Greater Sydney. If doing so, these workers must provide evidence that they have received:
Q: I live in one of the 12 locked-in LGAs. Can I work inside my area?
A: Construction work is permitted at un-occupied constructions sites within the 12 local government areas of concern provided occupiers of these construction sites:
Q: Can I leave Greater Sydney to work in regional NSW?
A: Unless you live in an LGA of concern, you can leave Greater Sydney to work in a regional area for both construction in un-occupied sites and prescribed work (renovations, repairs, maintenance and cleaning) at an occupied site. You must follow the guidelines and obtain a travel permit before leaving Greater Sydney.
Q: Can I enter one of the 12 LGAs to carry out work?
A: People from Greater Sydney (including the Blue Mountains and Wollongong) may enter the 12 LGAs of concern for work on un-occupied construction sites. Work at occupied homes can only be carried out if required to ensure the health, safety or security of the residents or dwelling or in an emergency.
Q: Can I visit more than one site in a day?
A: The cap on trades people visiting no more than five sites in any week is only applicable to unoccupied premises of two storeys and under. While there is no cap for occupied premises it is recommended that movement is kept to a minimum. Mandatory mask requirements and capacity limits of two workers for indoor services and five workers for outdoor services do apply in occupied premises.
Q: Is it true that there can only be one trade onsite at a time?
A: No. For occupied premises, capacity limits (2 indoors and 5 outdoors) are mandatory but more than one trade may attend site at any given time. It is strongly recommended that where reasonably practical, there are minimal personnel on site to minimise the risk of close contact. For unoccupied construction sites, the COVID-19 Safety Plan is a requirement of the Public Health Order and the one person per 4m2 rule applies.
Q: Can I carpool with a work-mate to and from site?
A: Carpooling is not permitted unless among members of the same household.
Q: My worksite is a large rural property. Does the 5 person rule still apply?
A: At this point, the 5 people outdoors rule applies regardless of the size of the site. The risk of transmission in outdoor settings is acknowledged as significantly reduced, however, discussions regarding the physical distancing guidelines are ongoing.
Q: Are all workers required to wear a mask on site?
A: Yes, masks are now mandatory in all settings across NSW, including outdoors, except when exercising. Exemptions may apply when wearing a face mask creates a safety issue or there is a worksite emergency or to ensure the health, safety or security of the residents or the dwelling.
Q: My team member/s live in the 12 LGAs of concern. How do I confirm their vaccination status?
A: Authorised workers from within the 12 LGAs must carry evidence of their vaccination status (or vaccination exemption) to enable them to carry out work (in accordance with the rules), and be prepared to show this evidence to their employer, occupier of a construction site, a police officer or authorised officer. Proof of address must also be carried at all times and shown when requested. Information about how to get a record of vaccination can be found here.
Q: My worksites are in the ACT can I continue to work?
A: Currently, no construction and maintenance works can be carried out within the ACT. However, it is expected that from Friday 3 September, the following work will be allowed to re-commence in the ACT:
Landscaping works are considered as part of the construction sector for the purposes of this staged re-opening. TLA is currently seeking clarification as to whether maintenance of public spaces including sports grounds, schools, transport sites etc can re-commence after 3 September and we will update members as this information is available.
Find out more about the ACT lockdown here.
Q: Can I get business support due to the ACT lockdown?
A: Yes. The Commonwealth and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Governments are working together to extend the COVID-19 Business Support Grants in line with the extension of the ACT lockdown to 2 September. Businesses must be registered in the ACT and able to demonstrate their primary operation in the ACT, have an annual turnover of more than $75,000, be registered for GST and have a total payroll of less than $10 million. They will also need to provide evidence of a 30 per cent reduction in their turnover. Businesses can register their interest for the grants and the Covid-19 Business Hardship Scheme on the Business Hub website.
Employees who are unable to earn an income during the lockdown may be able to access the Commonwealth Government’s COVID-19 Disaster Payment. Payment amounts will vary from $200 to up to $750 depending on the hours of work lost during the lockdown and other eligibility criteria. More information about the scheme and how to apply is available on the Services Australia website.
Q: I live in Canberra can I travel to work on a NSW site across the border?
A: All of NSW is now deemed a COVID-affected area.
For NSW residents who work on ACT construction projects – If you live in one of the following postcode areas (Click here to view postcodes), you can only enter the ACT for essential work (or for healthcare reasons) as defined by the ACT Government. For ACT residents who work on NSW construction projects – Generally, ACT residents who work on NSW construction, repair or maintenance projects are required to undertake 14 days quarantine upon return to the ACT. The only exception to this quarantine requirement is where 1) The ACT resident is working on a construction site within one of the postcode areas listed above; AND 2) Where the NSW construction, repair or maintenance activities are for essential infrastructure and essential services required to maintain or protect the safety, health or welfare of the community or a section of the community (whether provided by a public or private undertaking).
If a construction activity is permitted in NSW, this does not by itself mean it is an essential construction activity for which ACT residents are allowed to travel. It is the ACT Government assessment of “essential” which applies, even if a project is in NSW.
Q: Can I require an employee to be vaccinated?
A: This issue is still being considered by the Federal government and Fairwork Australia. Ahead of formal advice being received the Prime Minister has acknowledged that employers need to consider this issue and make their own decisions relevant to their workplace, taking into account reasonableness and the application of anti-discrimination laws. Fairwork Australia’s website includes some information here on vaccinations in the workplace. See TLA’s vaccination summary here.
Q: Do employees accrue leave entitlements while stood down?
A: Yes, employees are still employed while stood down and as such their leave entitlements continue to accrue. See information from the Fair Work Ombudsman here.
TLA continues to work with government and other construction industry representatives regarding the COVID-19 restrictions, to: provide feedback and advice on industry requirements; to advocate for easing of restrictions where safe to do so; and to ensure clarity around the restrictions.
TLA strongly encourages adherence to the public health orders regarding restrictions in order to hasten their easing. We also encourage all members and staff to get vaccinated as soon as possible.