COVID-19 impact on employees and employers
21st July 2021
by Allan Hall Business Advisors
Given the ongoing nature of this latest COVID 19 outbreak, the government has imposed further restrictions from 18 July 2021 which will impact businesses in the Greater Sydney area, including the Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Wollongong and Shellharbour.
For a detailed rundown of how the recent COVID-19 restrictions impact employees and employers, including whether your employees are allowed to come to work and which businesses are allowed to remain open, please click here.
There may be workplace options available such as:
Allowing employees to continue to work from home
This is the ideal option if your business can successfully continue with remote working. Employers must allow an employee to work from home if the employee is reasonably able to do so. Businesses that do not allow employees that can reasonably work from home to do so face a fine of up to $10,000.
Under the Fair Work Act 2009, employers have the option of standing down employees without pay during a sudden workplace closure that is outside the employer’s control. This is allowed when:
If employees are unable to attend work due to an enforceable government direction (eg closure of construction or retail), the employer doesn’t have to pay the employee. Please note however, that an employer and employee can agree on the employee taking paid leave during the stand down period (e.g. annual leave/long service leave).
Changing rosters and hours of work or changing employees’ duties
These options can only be done by agreement between employer/employee and/or with appropriate notice according to the relevant award/agreement.
Employees may be eligible for government assistance during a stand down or when they are unable to attend work due to an enforceable government direction.
Employees who are stood down may be able to access paid and unpaid leave entitlements. However, it is important to note that this can affect employer and/or employee eligibility for government support and assistance.
Unpaid Pandemic Leave
Employees required to self-isolate by government or medical authorities’ may be able to access up to 2 weeks of unpaid Pandemic leave. (Evidence may be required).
Annual Leave at half pay
Award covered employees can take annual leave at half pay for twice the length of time if their employer agrees.
Long Service Leave
An employer and a worker can agree to taking long service leave in smaller blocks, such as one or two days a week.
COVID-19 Disaster payment
The Federal Government COVID-19 Disaster Payment is a payment which employees can access to help when lockdown lasts for more than 7 days. Employees cannot get this payment for the first 7 days of lockdown. For more details about this payment, see here.
Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment
This is a lump sum payment to help during each 14 day period if an employee needs to self-isolate, quarantine or care for someone and cannot earn an income. There are eligibility criteria for the $1500 lump sum payment. For full details that apply to your state, click here.
Mental Health support
If you or your staff are experiencing any issues in coping with the impact of these lockdowns, there are a number of highly reputable support lines available, including:
Beyond Blue – 1800 51 23 48
Lifeline Australia – 13 11 14
About Allan Hall Business Advisors
Allan Hall Business Advisors is a firm of Chartered Accountants and specialist business advisors established on Sydney’s Northern Beaches in 1957. They are currently ranked 40th in Australia in the highly regarded Australian Financial Review Top 100 Accounting firms and were recently awarded 2021 Firm of the Year at the Australian Accounting Awards.
We’d like to thank them for providing this information about key employment options during this lockdown period. Navigating the employment rules and support that relate to these latest restrictions is highly complex.
Businesses can contact them directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1300 675 393 if you wish to discuss your unique situation.
Visit their website here.