Managing the post-COVID return to the office

Managing the post-COVID return to the office

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how to manage the post-COVID return to the office

As the population moves towards 70% vaccination against COVID-19, many businesses are slowly transitioning staff back to the office.

But it’s essential to manage this process, not only to ensure the business meets its WHS obligations, but also to ensure its operational processes are fit for a new world.

Everything starts with providing a safe work environment. Review your business’s sanitisation stations, cleaning roster and set rules for wiping down work spaces.

The federal government’s Safework web site is the place to start to check your obligations. But each state has different rules and requirements. So be sure to regularly check your state’s relevant authority for updates.

Safely getting to and from work

Safely transporting employees to and from work is one of the biggest challenges for many businesses, particularly when staff rely on public transport to get to work.

Different modes of transport have guidelines on mask wearing and social distancing and every business needs to be across requirements in their local area. Some employees also have genuine concerns about contracting COVID 19 while travelling on public transport and passing it on to vulnerable close contacts. So consider offering staff the option to catch Ubers or taxis or providing parking spots in public carparks close to the office so they don’t have to catch buses and trains.

We recommend you put in place an employee assistance program to support employees who have a great degree of concern or who are highly anxious about returning to the office because of COVID.

The role of insurance

What happens in the event a worker contracts COVID-19 and alleges it is work- related?

For workers to be successful in a worker’s compensation claim that relates to COVID-19, they will need to establish they have suffered an injury arising out of or in the course of their employment and work is a substantial contributing factor to the injury.

Most of the claims brought in NSW have related to psychological injuries such as feelings of isolation, anxiety or concern about the global pandemic. In these cases, the worker has not actually contracted COVID-19 but are dealing with mental illnesses that relate to COVID-19.

Employers need to be careful calculating weekly workers’ compensation payments where a worker has been stood down from work due to COVID-19.

Have regard to the employee’s current circumstances, and not what was occurring before the shutdowns occurred when calculating payments. Employers should also note Job Keeper payments constitute earnings when calculating weekly payments.

At the moment, some employers will be dealing with a backlog of injured workers looking to return to work and increase their work capacity. At the same time, some employers will also have to manage staff who do not want to return to the office. Employers need to work out how to help these workers.

As the COVID-19 threat diminishes, employers will need to reconsider policies regarding working from home, as well as hybrid situations where staff work from home some of the time and in the office the remainder of the working week.

Contact HDL for any assistance

Contact HDL to ensure your insurance cover is still appropriate to meet 2021’s challenges, contact us.

The information provided in this article is of a general nature only and has been prepared without taking into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs. If you require advice that is tailored to your specific business or individual circumstances, please contact HDL.

HDL news, updates and publications may contain links to non-HDL websites that are created and controlled by other organisations. We claim no responsibility for the content of any linked website, or any link contained therein. The inclusion of any link does not imply endorsement by HDL, as we have no responsibility for information referenced in material owned and controlled by other parties. HDL strongly encourages you to review any separate terms of use and privacy policies governing use of these third party websites and resources.

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