By Marie Sherry

The Queensland Government has recorded 10 new coronavirus cases overnight including four cases of community transmission.

These recent cases have resulted in the Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk announcing a three-day lockdown from 5.00PM (AEDT) on 29 March 2021 to 5.00PM (AEDT) on 1 April 2021.

The restrictions apply to the greater Brisbane area which includes the Ipswich, Logan, Redlands, Moreton and Brisbane Council areas.

The Government has also announced that individuals may not leave their houses unless for the following excepted reasons:

  • Shopping for essentials, food and necessary supplies;
  • Medical or healthcare needs, including compassionate requirements;
  • Exercise with no more than one other person, unless all from the same household;
  • Providing care or assistance to an immediate family member;
  • Work, or volunteering, or study if it is not reasonably practicable to work or learn remotely;
  • Child custody arrangements;
  • Legal obligations;
  • Visit for end of life;
  • Attend funeral or wedding in line with restrictions;
  • In emergency situations;
  • To escape harm;
  • If you entered the impacted area responding to an emergency as an emergency health services or emergency service worker or national defence, state security or police officer;
  • If required to allow an essential service to occur such as the transport of freight in and out of Greater Brisbane;
  • You’re directed to leave by an emergency health officer; and
  • You have an exemption from the Chief Health Officer.

Other than the reasons outlined above, the Queensland Government has not currently released a Public Health Direction which provides further clarity upon what does or does not fall within each of the category.

Given that schools are also closing, businesses are initially recommended to engage with employees at first instance to determine which employees are in fact able to continue working and those which require a period of personal/carers leave to care for dependent children.

Where businesses are unable to operate due to the nature and effect of the operations outlined above, businesses may seek to stand down employees without pay where there is a stoppage of work (i.e., the business is not operating) and employees cannot be effectively utilised due to circumstances beyond your control.

Where a stand down is not in effect (i.e. there is not a stoppage of work, or the business can continue to operate but elects not to do so) then employees are entitled to continue receiving payment. In such circumstances, consideration should be given as to what, if any, duties/education/development can be undertaken while at home.

Where a business imposes a stand down it is recommended to consult with employees and confirm the stand down in writing.

A business can provide employees with the option of utilising their paid leave entitlements during this period should they wish. There is no obligation to do so where a stand down is imposed.

Naturally a business can continue to pay employees as per normal during the shut down period should they elect to do so, which should also be confirmed in writing.

Further information will be provided and updated in due course.

If you need assistance in managing your employees during this period, please contact the team at HR Assured.

Marie Sherry is a Workplace Relations Advisor at FCB Group (our parent company) and HR Assured. Marie advises SMEs across a broad range of industries on all HR and employment relations matters including the Fair Work Act, National Employment Standards, Award compliance, employment contracts, performance management, unfair dismissal, general protections, wages, recruitment, WHS, HRIS, redundancy, and major workplace changes and updates.