New Workplace Rules for Australia’s Post-Virus Economy

May 6, 2020 Updated: May 6, 2020

Workplaces will have new rules in place to make them “virus-safe” as millions of Australians prepare to return to work.

Businesses have been encouraged to implement a range of measures put together by Safe Work Australia.

On May 1, Attorney-General Christian Porter and Michaelia Cash, the minister for employment, skills, and small business, launched an online toolkit on the Safe Work website providing information on health and safety guidelines for 23 industries.

Porter said the guidelines provide information on “physical distancing, personal protective equipment, worksite cleaning, how to conduct risk assessments, and design emergency plans.”

Cash said, “I would encourage every business to think about their unique circumstances, consult their peak body, check out SWA’s new website, and start preparing now.”

The Safe Work guidelines were created in consultation with Safe Work members, state and territory workplace safety bodies, employer groups, and unions.

The website will be regularly updated with new guidance as current restrictions are eased.

Unions are pushing for businesses to be mandated to provide virus-safe workplaces, but Porter has refuted this saying existing laws are sufficient.

The national cabinet is aiming to have businesses ready before July.

Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said staggered hours were one way to reduce contact as people return to work.

He emphasised the importance of avoiding crowded places including public transport or lifts.

“We don’t want everyone crowding in the lifts at the beginning of the day and the end of the day,” he said.

Murphy said cleaning products and hand sanitiser should be in workplaces, while hot-desk arrangements would need to change.

Epoch Times Photo
A person applies hand sanitizer gel to their hands in a file photo. (Elenathewise/iStock)

He also said using video conferencing where possible and maintaining the ban on handshakes was important.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison supported these new regulations saying to reporters on May 5, “To get Australians back to work, what is essential is they could go back into a COVID-19 safe workplace.”

Morrison has spent the past few weeks focussing on reviving the economy post-virus.

On May 5, Morrison spruiked the first military aircraft designed and built in Australia.

On May 6, he tweeted about $500 million worth of new infrastructure projects saying, “Our $500m investment in this project will boost jobs, bust congestion and get workers and families home sooner and safer.”

States and territories are now in the midst of easing restrictions from the virus.

Meanwhile, Australia and New Zealand are forging ahead with plans to create a special travel zone in the coming months.