AHRI members can post their COVID-19 related questions on Ask AHRI:ASSIST to get advice and support from an experienced HR professional.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness caused by a new virus. Symptoms range from a mild cough to pneumonia. Some people recover easily, others may get very sick very quickly. There is evidence that it spreads from person to person. The incubation period of COVID-19 is between two and 14 days. Common signs of infection include a cough, difficulty in breathing and a fever. Good hygiene can prevent infection.
Find out more on the World Health Organisation website.
What can you do?
Make sure you remain up to date with the current advice from the Australian Government Department of Health information website.
The situation is changing constantly. There are basic, but effective, ways to help prevent the infection’s spread including:
Staff should not attend the workplace if they have any flu-like symptoms - they should see their doctor and get a clearance to attend work.
A series of webinars to inform you on how to respond to COVID-19.
Complimentary for AHRI members, $50 for non-members. All times AEDT (AEST after 5 April).
Thursday 2 April - 12:30pm Workforce management in a time of crisis
Tuesday 7 April - 12:30pm Managing your employment law obligations
Thursday 9 April - 12:30pm How to effectively transition into working from home
Tuesday 14 April - 12:30pm Preparing for a new work and caring environment
Thursday 16 April - 12:30pm Resilience
Thursday 30 April - 12:30pm Data-driven employee engagement
View past webinars below
Available only to AHRI members.
We had a huge response to our Live Facebook Q&A about successfully working through COVID-19. Watch the video as we take questions from our community around working from home legal requirements, leave provisions, how to manage anxiety and more related topics.
Below is a handy Infosheet with the questions and answers provided.
Build a contingency team: Identify a person, or small group of people, to take responsibility for operating the contingency plan and allocate clear responsibilities for its implementation
Develop a contingency plan: Every organisation will need to assess its own level of exposure to business disruption caused by the virus. If it has a site, conducts business or has supply chains in an affected country or region, there will be a direct impact to the company’s day-to-day operations. The plan will need to take account of current and potential impacts and manage the specific business risks associated with the disruption, including service delivery and workforce issues. Communicate the plan to key teams and individuals across the business.
As the situation develops: Those responsible for the contingency plan should meet regularly to review the preparations and ensure they are still fit for purpose. It’s important to act early, even if planned contingencies are not then needed.
Test capacity to work remotely: Your IT team should be determining the organisation’s capacity to work remotely (and stress testing this), with staff being able to access all applications and systems required to operate the business.
International travel: If you have any staff who have been living or travelling abroad or who have had close contact with people returning from overseas - they should be implementing self-isolation for 14 days.
Leave provisions: There are currently no special leave provisions within the Fair Work Act - FWO’s website states that full-time and part-time permanent workers who can’t come to work because they are sick with COVID-19 can take paid sick leave, or if they need to look after a sick family member or housemate they can take paid carer’s leave. They can also take unpaid carer’s leave if they run out of paid sick or carer’s leave.
See the Fair Work Australia website for further information.
Annual leave and return to work process: Organisations should update their leave process to seek specific information from employees with authorised leave, or seeking leave, to include country destination(s) or any transit through a country. On return to work, employees who have actively, and intentionally, visited those areas identified by the AGDofHS as high risk should be required to self-isolate for 14 days. In addition, if they have been in contact with, or have symptoms of, COVID-19 they should not physically come to work but contact the workplace for an assessment of risk and identified strategies to manage an isolation period – i.e. work from home opportunities.
Staff intending to return to work following illness should have a medical certificate indicating they are fit for work. Make sure anybody's return to work process is a positive one – remembering they have been isolated from the workplace for some time and should be ‘welcomed’ back.
While it is critical to understand the legal requirements in place when working with employees, it is also important to consider what you can do as an HR practitioner to have an impact on the broader issues facing staff. We have compiled a list of key issues to consider relating to your business continuity, ensuring the health, safety and wellbeing of employees and their families.
AHRI CEO Sarah McCann-Bartlett was joined by Head of People and Culture Rosemary Guyatt to share the top tips for HR practitioners to help them respond to a global health crisis.
AHRI will be holding a special Q&A session on Monday 23 March, 10:30-10:45AM AEDT to answer some HR community questions around COVID-19, on Facebook Live.