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Managing the coronavirus outbreak - five essential tips for your business

09 March 2020
We are less than a quarter of the way into 2020, and Australia has seen a dramatic start to the year. After a summer of catastrophic bushfires, crippling drought, major storms and floods, Australians are now (with the rest of the world) facing the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19). 

This article provides your business with five essential tips to manage the outbreak:

1. Review your work travel policies

Limit work-related travel to business-critical functions, and encourage alternatives such as video conferencing wherever possible.

Clear and written directions should be made to your workforce in relation to these policies, including the consequences for employees if they are breached. 

2. Utilise remote work where possible

Where an employee is self-isolating (but otherwise able to do useful work) and where practicable and safe based on their role, you should encourage remote work.

3. Ensure employees are fit and able to return to work

Ensure your business has received appropriate medical clearance that an employee is fit for duty before returning to work, and workers have complied with any mandated travel bans or self-isolation periods before doing so.

4. Consider your contracts, enterprise agreements and binding policies

Before making directions to employees in relation to self-isolation, suspension etc, ensure the steps you are taking are consistent with relevant employment contracts, enterprise agreements and binding policies.

5. Consider your duty of care/work health and safety obligations

Remember your duty of care as an employer and your statutory work health and safety obligations. This extends not only to workers who have (or may have) contracted coronavirus, but also the rest of your workforce and other persons associated with your business, such as your clients, suppliers and visitors. 

In this regard, we encourage you to consider the above steps, as well as other practical steps to prevent infection, such as review of employee hygiene guidelines and conducting risk assessments where required. 

If you require advice about these provisions, please contact a member of our expert Employment and Safety team.

Further Reading