Employer HR Update – COVID-19

Published March 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic is changing daily, and so are impacts on employers. This update provides information about managing your employees and understanding your workplace health and safety obligations during this challenging time. While employers have many obligations to comply with, it’s also important to remember that your people are critical to the success of your business so it is in your best interest to ensure you keep abreast developments and changing Government advice, and handle things both calmly and promptly.


Business as Usual for Edwards HR 

We are fortunate enough to be able to easily work with our clients remotely by phone, email and video chat so currently it is business as usual for us.


Please note that while you can reach us anytime, we will not be attending face-to-face meetings until further advice is received from the Australian Government. We appreciate your patience and understanding.


Managing Employees


The Fair Work Ombudsman has answered most of the common questions about Covid-19 and Australian workplace laws on their website – click here to read detailed information about:

  • Leave entitlements (paid and unpaid)
  • Employees stuck overseas
  • Self-isolation
  • Employees choosing to self-isolate as a precaution
  • Parents unable to work due to school closures
  • Handling casuals and contractors
  • Reducing work hours and redundancy

This website is regularly updated with new and current information. We also recommend keeping your team informed of any changes and developments they should be aware of, for example:

  • Increased hygiene measures
  • Company travel restrictions (where relevant)
  • Leave entitlements if isolation or quarantine is required
  • Handling disgruntled customers during this challenging time
  • The physical and online tools you will be using to help remote teams operate effectively – Where appropriate, how your business is preparing for future disruption

Employer WHS Obligations


Safe Work Australia provides information online about employer workplace health and safety obligations and how to handle Covid-19 – click here to read about:

  • Employer WHS obligations
  • What you should be doing to protect your workplace and your people
  • Directing employees to not attend work
  • Handling employees who refuse to work
  • Risks to consider when working from home
  • Employee stress and anxiety due to Covid-19
  • Worker’s compensation

This website is regularly updated with new and current information. Each state WHS regulatory body and worker’s compensation insurer also has state-specific information online. The Australian Government Department of Health has an Employer information guide available here which offers guidance on whether people can work, recommended cleaning procedures, food and beverage contamination, and other general precautions.


Working from Home


Working from home is simply not viable for some roles (like truck drivers and tradespeople), but for many others, it is a simple step you can take to improve social distancing and minimise the spread of germs. We recommend establishing some clear expectations with each employee working from home, and utilising online tools such as Asana or Trello (task and project management), Zoom or Skype (video conferencing), and Microsoft Teams (collaboration).

We don’t endorse any of these tools but have heard good things about them all, along with many others you’ll find yourself by doing a quick Google search. Many heavy industry clients are telling us that having employees work from home is unchartered territory for them, so we’re offering our Working from Home Toolkit for FREE (normally valued at $495).


Head over to our shop to download your free working from home toolkit, complete with policy, employee agreement and home work space checklist (normally valued at $495).


Please add this product to your cart and use the code COVIDFREE to download at no cost (no credit card details required).


Government Funding 

Australian and State Governments have announced various stimulus packages which include funding and offset arrangements to support employers. These range from temporary cash flow support to deferred payroll tax and funding of apprentice and trainee wages. We recommend researching what your business is eligible for.


In Closing


There are many risks and challenges for employers to manage, many of which we have not dealt with on this scale before. We encourage all businesses to seek advice on any areas they are unsure about.

Edwards HR can be contacted any time:
 > Phone: 0459 818 011
 > Email: emma@edwardshr.com.au
 > Web: https://edwardshr.com.au

Should you require assistance from another professional outside of the HR scope, please get in touch and we will happily refer you to one of our brilliant partners.

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with our no-obligation recommendations.