Ok, we are all getting tired of this now – 2 years on and we are slowly seeing some light but there is some way to go, and it is not easy to navigate this personally let alone as a business owner. This is true when we need support around us. I think it is fair to assume we will all at some stage get COVID – hopefully only mildly. I feel for anyone who gets a bad bout as I did – it really is not nice to be laid up and unable to do anything for days on end – thankfully after 3 weeks I am now negative and feeling better but still a way to go.

But I wasn’t writing to tell you that –

I have pulled together some helpful resources and information to go some way in navigating this difficult time. If you have any questions at all then please let me know. There are links for you to follow as well. I wasn’t going to re-write as there is so much information out there you need to read this from the sources.

Here we go – remember to call or email if you have any questions

Employers warned on changes to vaccination definition

Employers seeking to require their staff to have COVID-19 vaccination booster shots will need to navigate a complex set of workplace rules and consult widely, an employment law expert says.

University of Sydney Business School employment law expert Giuseppe Carabetta said any requirements put in place by employers needed to be lawful and reasonable, and would depend on the nature of the job and associated risks

You can read more at this link HERE

RAT testing

Many businesses have implemented rapid antigen testing programs into their business operations where employees take COVID-19 self-tests at home and present evidence of a negative test result before entering the workplace.

However, Businesses only need to implement rapid antigen testing if a government direction or industry-standard requires them to do so. Otherwise, the tests may be an alternative control measure to manage COVID-19 transmission risks for business owners, subject to the results of any risk assessment they carry out.

If you would like to implement a rapid antigen testing program into your operations, it’s important to understand your legal responsibilities. Before you begin, you should consider:

  • Your legal requirement. Businesses can only require an employee to take a rapid antigen test if the direction is considered lawful and reasonable. The testing must be connected to the employee’s employment, the nature of their workplace, and is considered necessary for an employer to know the employee’s fitness to work.
  • How you will verify the rapid antigen test results.
  • What type of test suits your business.
  • Where you will purchase your rapid antigen tests.
  • How you will document, report, and store the testing results.
  • How you will dispose of completed tests. Check the waste management rules in your state or territoryfor your obligations and local services.

FAQ

What if an employee refused to take a test?

If a government or public health direction requires an employer to implement rapid antigen testing in their workplace, the employer can direct their employee to comply with the law.

As an employee’s refusal to take a test will flow from either a refusal to comply with the law or the employer’s policy, the employer may be able to commence a disciplinary process with the employee.

What if they get a positive result?

Employers who introduce rapid antigen testing must pay for the employee’s test kit. If an employee purchases a test kit at the direction of the employer, the employer must reimburse them the cost. If that employee returns a positive test result, they must be paid for time worked up until the results are received.

“If an employee returns a positive result, employers must direct them to stay out of the workplace, immediately take a standard COVID-19 test and communicate their result as soon as they receive it, as well as follow any government advice or regulations with respect to testing and self-isolating,” continued Mr. Drewsen.

“If the subsequent standard test is positive, then permanent employees are eligible to take personal leave for the full period of absence. If negative, the employee is not entitled to payment in the ordinary course (but will be permitted to work). Annual leave can also be taken by mutual agreement.”

AiGroup have produced an informative document on Rapid antigen testing for COVID-19 – you can find that here

 

RAT tax: Business owners warned COVID tests could attract FBT

Handing out Rapid Antigen Tests to employees is a great way to help keep your workplace safe but doing so can also trigger tax ramifications that employers need to be aware of. We suggest that you touch base with your accountant on this one as that’s a question for them.

 

Pandemic no “shield” for employer’s late wages: FWC

The FWC has refused to accept the pandemic as an excuse for an employer’s late payment of wages over a six-month period, agreeing to consider a worker’s general protections application on the basis that the delays left him with no choice but to resign. James McKay v Astro Aero Pty Ltd [2022] FWC 170 (25 January 2022)

Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment

A reminder that there is a PANDEMIC LEAVE DISASTER PAYMENT available for Employees – they can find out all the information they need at this address.

https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/pandemic-leave-disaster-payment

We recommend that if your employee does test positive to COVID that you send them this link so they can apply if their circumstances match the criteria.

Briefly, however they must meet both of the following requirements to be eligible:

  • you’ve lost at least 8 hours or a full day’s work
  • you have liquid assets of less than $10,000 on the first day of the period you’re claiming for.

As business also look if they have sick leave available and/or accrued annual leave they can use. It’s hard enough with living costs rising for employees (and yes employers too) so any support or help you can give to make it as easy as possible is likely to be rewarded with loyalty and appreciation.

You can also find loads of other helpful information at the Fair Work Ombudsman Website – HERE