From 15/12/2021 all limits, vaccination, check and government mask requirements for retail and offices will be removed. With the economy opening to unvaccinated persons, there is a noted increase in anxiety from staff in retail and office situations. ACAPMA has been addressing increasing numbers of enquiries from members where vaccinated staff are concerned about working alongside unvaccinated staff and this weeks HR Highlight explores the imperative and the approach to managing COVID Anxiety and Risk in the Workplace
Changes to the COVID restrictions that come in on 15/12/2021 are a cause for celebration, but for many workers the influx of unvaccinated co-workers and customers is a cause for concern.
What is changing?
From 15/12/2021 changes to the COVID Settings – https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/easing-covid-19-restrictions/opening-in-dec – mean the removal of density, vaccination and mask requirements for retail and offices. High risk settings will still require masks and Check In will still be required in some bars, pubs and clubs.
What this means for fuel retail is that staff are no longer required by the health laws to;
- Wear masks
- Encourage customers to wear masks
- Encourage customers to CheckIn
What this means for office and admin is that staff are no longer required by the health laws to;
- Be vaccinated to attend the workplace
- Wear masks
Implementing Business COVID Controls
As outlined here; https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6867292792302006272 COVID is a workplace risk, one that the business must manage, and has the requirement to assess and implement controls. It is a clear fact that unvaccinated persons pose a greater risk of transmission and as such it is possible and appropriate to implement controls, including PPE, that applies only to those higher risk person such as outlined below;
COVID-19 Risk in the Workplace and Control Measures
As is required by State and Federal Law the business has undertaken a risk assessment for the known risk of COVID-19 in the workplace and has implemented the following controls to remove or reduce the impact of this risk. All staff are instructed to utilise the control measures and to follow the administrative, executive and PPE controls that are outlined below. Failure to follow these instructions is a serious safety breach and may result in performance management up to and including termination of employment.
COVID-19 Risk Response Controls
- All staff are to get COVID-19 tested and not come into the office when they are unwell with COVID-19 symptoms, or if others in their household are unwell with COVID-19 symptoms
- All staff are to keep 1.5m distance from others are much as possible and to minimise time and interaction with other staff
- All staff are to wash hands and sanitise hands and surfaces regularly using the sanitiser provided
- Staff who have not shown the business evidence of COVID-19 Vaccination or Exemption will be required to use the control PPE of a face masks while in the workplace until further notice. COVID-19 Vaccination reduces the likelihood of acquiring COVID-19 and thus the likelihood of transmitting COVID-19 in the workplace. Any staff member who is required to wear a mask by these safety controls is able to provide a mask medical exemption form and will be required to wear the lesser PPE of a Face Shield
We understand that after 18 months of changes and the current situation with the new variant there are likely to be some concerns within the staff, the business welcomes your concerns and feedback to [name and email of person] and will continue to monitor the situation, engage with safety regulators and update the COVID-19 Risk Response Controls as required
Here to Help
HR Highlights are things to consider, implement and watch out for in your business. They are provided as general information for you to consider and do not constitute advice. You should seek further advice on your situation by contacting your legal advisor. ACAPMA members can access resources and receive advice, guidance and support from the ACAPMA employment professionals via firstname.lastname@example.org , it is free for members. ACAPMA Membership delivers this and more benefits, see; https://acapma.com.au/membership/ for more information.
Elisha Radwanowski BCom(HRM&IR)