COVID-19 measures create workplace minefield

CLayton Cook Mining

The COVID-19 outbreak has left employers and employees navigating a minefield of new human resources and risk management issues, says a North Queensland training and recruitment leader.

TP Human Capital managing director Clayton Cook said businesses were entering new territory in terms of precautions, responses and employee entitlements.

These include issues ranging from how to deal with employees displaying potential virus symptoms to the question of remuneration for those in self-isolation or the potential need to have remote area workers in quarantine.

Even the sudden flood of people being asked to work from home carries potential challenges regarding the employer’s duty of care to ensure employees to have a safe work environment.

“It’s complex – that is probably the best word for it,” Mr Cook said

The pandemic held the potential to generate many new issues in terms of human resources, industrial relations and from a legal perspective, he said.

“In the last few days, I have spent probably 70 per cent of my time on policy and implementation of risk management, WHS and in discussion with clients on how we’re dealing with these potential issues,” Mr Cook said.

TP Human Capital has adapted a risk management template compiled by industry body the Recruitment and Consulting Services Association.

“That is available for people free of charge on our website,” Mr Cook said.

“It could help businesses – even if just run through the template it will provide a bit of a process for things you should be thinking about.”

Mining clients were ramping up screening of people entering sites and health monitoring on suite, he said.

“One of the concerns on site is whether people will try and mask symptoms,” Mr Cook said.

“People are probably worried about losing income and secondly, in remote locations, if someone is presenting with symptoms and have to go into isolation while on site that means that people might have to spend 14 days in quarantine in a donga basically.

“That’s something that mine sites may not have addressed yet.

“People will not want to be sick there looking at four walls. They will potentially want to come home and the risk if that is, of course, they have to get on a flight to get home. Mining companies are looking at this sort of thing.”