By Bethany Silverman

The Queensland Government has announced a three-day lockdown for South East Queensland, Townsville (including Magnetic Island) and Palm Island areas, commencing at 6 pm on Tuesday 29 June 2021 in an attempt to contain a coronavirus outbreak. The restrictions will be reviewed on Friday 2 July 2021.

Anyone in the affected Local Government Areas will be required to stay at home except for essential reasons. Anyone who was in South East Queensland, Townsville or Palm Island on or since 6 pm Tuesday 29 June 2021 is required to follow the same lockdown rules even if they’re no longer in those areas.

You can only leave your residence (which includes temporary accommodation such as a holiday rental) for limited permitted purposes such as:

  • obtaining essential goods or services, including healthcare (including vaccinations);
  • exercise;
  • attending essential work or childcare; and
  • assisting vulnerable persons.

Non-essential businesses are not allowed to operate and this includes cinemas, entertainment and recreation venues, hairdressers, beauty and personal care services, gyms and places of worship. Restaurants and cafes can provide take away or home delivery services only, while childcare centres remain open.

There are limits on attendees at funerals (maximum 20 people) and weddings (maximum 10 people including the celebrant and couple).

Personal visitors will not be permitted at aged care facilities, hospitals, disability care and correctional facilities (however there is an exception for end-of-life visits).

If your business is impacted by the lockdown, the following options are available to you regarding the ongoing engagement of your employees:

1. Continuation of payment

a) Businesses may wish to continue paying employees for the duration of the lock down period given it is for a limited time frame (as known at the date of this alert).

b) Casual employees will not be entitled to pay where they do not work.

2. Unpaid stand down

a) Where your business is unable to operate as a result of the lockdown restrictions, and there is a stoppage of work you may be able to impose an unpaid stand down. This option is conditional upon there being a stoppage of work as opposed to significant reduction in the volume of services performed.

We encourage you to seek advice to assess your ability to impose a period of unpaid stand down.

Where a stand down is imposed, you should actively engage with employees and confirm the stand down in writing.

3. Paid Leave

As an alternative to an unpaid stand down, a business may wish to give employees the choice of utilising paid leave entitlements (annual leave or long service leave) for the duration of the lockdown.

Paid leave entitlements should only be utilised where requested by an employee.

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.