Back to the office: Working from home to change as Queensland lifts restrictions on attending the workplace

Back to the office: Working from home to change as Queensland lifts restrictions on attending the workplace

01 June 2020 Authored by: Riley Anastasio, Belinda Winter   |   Topics: Workplace relations and safety, COVID-19 resources

Queensland has lifted restrictions on attending the office, encouraging workers to speak with their employer about a safe return to work.

Easing of restrictions

Stage 2 of Queensland’s Roadmap to Easing COVID-19 restrictions commenced today. This has seen the introduction of the new Movement and Gathering Direction. With the previous direction only allowing workers to attend the workplace if work could not reasonably be conducted at home, the new Direction has no such requirement, allowing workers to return to the workplace in line their employer’s return to work plan.

Preparing for a return to the workplace

Employers should ensure that they have adequately prepared for workers to return to the office, creating and implementing a return to work plan for their individual business, remembering that social distancing and workplace health and safety obligations remain in place.

Vulnerable workers

For workers, this may mean the working from home arrangements have ended. Workers should assess their own personal situation and alert their employer if they believe there is a reason they are unable to return to the workplace. This may include workers who fit the definition of a ‘vulnerable worker’ for the purposes of COVID-19.

A vulnerable worker is a worker who:

  • is Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and is 50 years or older with one or more chronic medical conditions
  • is 65 years or older with one or more chronic medical conditions
  • is 70 years or older
  • has a compromised immune system.

Advice for employers

It is likely this next phase will be challenging for employers and their workers for a whole host of reasons. For example, we expect there may be many workers who will resist returning to the workplace and an assessment will need to be undertaken to determine whether a direction to return to the workplace is reasonable and lawful.

If employers need advice about a return to work plan, or managing their workers return to work, please contact Belinda Winter or Annie Smeaton of the workplace relations and safety team here at Cooper Grace Ward 

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This publication is for information only and is not legal advice. You should obtain advice that is specific to your circumstances and not rely on this publication as legal advice. If there are any issues you would like us to advise you on arising from this publication, please let us know.