Following advice from the New South Wales Department of Health, the New South Wales Government has announced that the current lockdown will be extended for at least another two weeks until 11:59 pm on Friday 30 July 2021.
The current restrictions across Greater Sydney, including the Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Wollongong and Shellharbour will remain in place during this time.
Residents of these areas must remain at home, only leaving for a reasonable excuse such as obtaining food and essential goods and services, travelling for work or education if it is not possible to study or work from home, exercising and outdoor recreation, or medical and/or caring reasons.
Masks must continue to be worn on public transport, in the common areas of residential buildings and in non-residential indoor areas.
In this update, we point out how the lockdown may impact on your business and your people, and we’ll also update you on the Government financial support packages.
Additional restrictions and COVID-19 testing requirements
In addition, the NSW Government has imposed COVID-19 testing requirements for those who live within or are currently staying in the Fairfield local government area but work outside this area. These people must have a COVID-19 test every 72 hours (three days) in order to be permitted to enter a workplace. Individuals have until Friday 16 July 2021 to get tested so they can work outside the Fairfield local government area.
Businesses should consider the following:
- Determine which employees live in the impacted local government area;
- Determine if the employee can work from home or be redeployed temporarily to another location within the impacted local government area;
- If someone lives in an impacted local government area and needs to travel outside for work, then the employer may require the employee to provide proof that they have had a COVID-19 test;
- From a risk mitigation perspective consider and minimise employees who live outside the local government areas needing to travel into the LGAs for work.
There are also requirements for those living in or staying in Greater Sydney including the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour areas, but who work 50km or more outside Greater Sydney to have a COVID-19 test in the seven days before attending work. Employees must have had a test by Sunday 18 July 2021 in order to be permitted to attend a workplace.
Support payments for NSW businesses
On 13 July 2021, the Federal Government announced an extension of the COVID-19 Support Package for employees and businesses in NSW affected by the current lockdown. This includes an increase in the COVID-19 disaster payment from week four of a lockdown as well as a new and expanded small- to-medium business support package.
COVID-19 Disaster Payment
The COVID-19 Disaster Payment is varied as follows:
- From week four of a lockdown, payment will increase from:
- $500 to $600 each week if a person has lost 20 hours or more of work a week; or
- $325 to $375 each week if a person has lost between eight and 20 hours of work.
- The COVID-19 Disaster Payment will be a recurring payment for approved recipients, provided the declared hotspot and lockdown restrictions remain in place. Recipients will not need to re-claim for each seven-day period of a lockdown; and
- Confirmation that a person is eligible for the COVID-19 Disaster Payment, including where they are still working, provided they have lost more than eight hours or a full day of work.
Information about how to apply for COVID-19 Disaster Payment can be found on the Services Australia website here.
Small and medium business support payments
Small and medium businesses in NSW with an annual turnover of between $75,000 and $50 million will be eligible to receive financial support if they maintain their full-time, part-time and long-term casual staffing level as of 13 July 2021.
Businesses with a turnover that is 30 per cent lower than an equivalent two weeks in 2019 will receive between $1,500 and $10,000 per week of government assistance. The exact amount will be calculated as 40 per cent of the business’s NSW payroll payments.
The Commonwealth will fund 50 per cent of the cost of a new small and medium business support payment to be implemented and administered by Service NSW.
The situation is currently evolving, and further relevant information will be provided when it becomes known.
If you have any questions about these restrictions and how they may affect your workplace, feel free to contact the team at HR Assured.
For HR Assured clients, contact our 24/7 Telephone Advisory Service.
Not an HR Assured client and need some advice? The team at HR Assured can support your business on a range of workplace matters. Contact us today to arrange a confidential, no-obligation chat.
Bethany Silverman is a qualified Senior Workplace Relations Consultant at FCB Group and HR Assured. She regularly provides advice to a wide range of businesses in respect of compliance with workplace laws and managing complex matters including disciplinary and performance management processes and terminations.