There’s no doubt that the term hot spot and lockdown are here to stay for some time. We will need to get used to living with these scenarios.  

Depending on the type of business you have, you and your team will be affected in some way. While businesses like cafés and restaurants are likely to take the brunt of the lockdown, others will be able to mobilise their teams to work from home. 

Now that we have experienced this a couple of times, we should be organised enough to manage Covid for the long term and ready to kick into Covid lockdown at the drop of a hat. 

 from a businessDEPOT perspective, we are:

  • Constantly reminding our team to socially distance, keep good hygiene, stay home if sick and get tested [even with mild symptoms]  
  • Communicating covid tracing venues as they come to light and asking team members who have visited a venue to leave the office and get tested, then stay home until they receive a negative result 
  • Contact tracing any visitors to our offices 
  • Not traveling to destinations if we’ve been in a hotspot and vice versa 
  • Ready with our plan in place, should a team member be diagnosed with Covid and be able to act quickly 
  • Maintaining cleanliness and sanitisation in the common areas of our offices 
  • Spreading the team out by applying distancing rules in the office
  • Not allowing desk sharing and avoiding large gatherings 
  • Regularly reviewing our WHS Management Plan and updating the team when necessary 
  • Overcommunicating and checking in daily during any lockdown 
  • Managing our IT and equipment so that our team can work from home with ease 
  • Understanding our responsibility as employers in relation to WHS and working from home, and all team set ups are signed off [repeating this every 12 months]  
  • Communicating our policies regularly 
  • Following Government directives such as mask wearing and abiding to lockdown protocols 
  • Understanding our responsibilities under the Fair Work Act regarding leave and stand down provisions 

a brief reminder on stand down

In some circumstances, employers may be able to stand their employees down [with or without pay] during the Covid-19 outbreak for various reasons, including when:  

  • the business haclosed because of an Enforceable Government Direction [which means the employee can’t be usefully employed, even from another location such as their home],  
  • there is a stoppage of work due to lack of supply for which the employer cannot be held responsible, or 
  • before standing down an employee, employers should consider all other options and seek legal advice.  

The Fair Work Ombudsman is encouraging employers to consider the following before any stand down decision is made:  

  • Are working from home arrangements available?  
  • Can you agree with the employee to a temporary change in duties, rosters or hours, to enable the employee to continue working?  
  • Accessing paid or unpaid leave options. 

Just a reminder that business owners cannot use any JobKeeper related provisions like pandemic leave, or direction to change hours or duties. This ended with JobKeeper, so if you are unsure about what options you have for your team during a short-term lockdown, please seek legal advice. 

Should you require any specific advice on the current restrictions and/or how your business can best manage these as you move through 2021, let us know and we can ensure you speak to the right business advisor to get the right advice.


Originally authored by Anna Chipperfield.