COVID-19 resources, guidelines and templates
The community services sector plays a vital role in assisting the community. Keeping community organisations running where possible during the COVID-19 pandemic is crucial.
In this section, we provide information, tools, resources, and templates to help you keep your organisation operating and delivering services while protecting the health and wellbeing of staff, clients and the community.
As restrictions ease, review your return to work plan and COVID Safe checklist.
Business continuity planning
Your business continuity plan should contain all the information you need to prepare your organisation to manage disruptions and get your organisation running again after an incident or crisis.
It should include a business impact analysis and an incident response plan, with plan activation, incident response team, roles and responsibilities, communications and contact list.
If you don’t already have a formal business continuity plan in place, or you need to update it, visit the Business continuity page for more information on what to include. You can download a business continuity plan template or a template for a disaster plan for community organisations.
COVID-19 pandemic planning templates
Community Services Industry Alliance (CSIA) has developed a COVID-19 Pandemic Business Continuity Planning and Scenario Planning template to help you collate the information you need and identify key scenarios you should be planning for.
For organisations needing to accelerate their planning, CSIA has developed a Business Continuity Planning Accelerator. You can download this tool and work through each item to make sure you and your organisation are positioned to continue service delivery.
Pandemic emergency management response plan
QCOSS has shared its Pandemic Emergency Management Response plan, to appropriately mitigate risk and minimise the potential impact for employees and our business. The pandemic plan is to work in conjunction with the QCOSS business continuity plan.
What to do if you can’t deliver on services
Contracted service providers should review funding agreements in the first instance, and investigate other ways of delivering on contracts, such as telephone or video calls in the event that face-to-face services cannot be provided. If you are unable to deliver on your contract/s, contact your government contract manager as soon as possible, to see if additional resources can be provided, or to renegotiate contract deliverables.
Taking care of mental health is as important to recovery as other health and economic initiatives. The Queensland Government has launched a mental health campaign targeting Queenslanders who have had their lives impacted by COVID-19.
It is critically important that Queenslanders take proactive steps to maintain and support their mental health and wellbeing and the Dear Mind campaign provides practical suggestions on how to do this.
Industrial relations issues
Protecting employees and others in the workplace
Employers must have measures in place to eliminate or manage the risks arising from COVID-19. To do this, you should keep up to date with the latest COVID-19 information and advice to ensure that any action taken is appropriate. This includes closely monitoring the information provided by the Australian Government Department of Health, the Smartraveller website and advice from the Queensland Government.
Need more support with human resource and industrial relations issues?
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) recognises many employers are facing complex human resource situations at the moment and has provided a range of resources to help.
When can employers direct employees to stay away from their usual workplace?
There is nothing in the model Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) laws that deals expressly with when an employer may direct an employee to stay away from their usual place of work. This includes when you can direct a worker to work from another workplace, including from home.
So far as is reasonably practicable, employers are required to ensure the health and safety of workers and others at the workplace. To meet this duty, employers must identify risks at the workplace, and do what is reasonably practicable to eliminate or minimise those risks.
Employers and employees should work together to find appropriate solutions that suit the needs of your workplace and your staff. This may include taking different forms of leave, working from home, or taking extra precautions in the workplace.
What happens if an employee or their family member is sick with coronavirus?
Employees who cannot work because they are sick with coronavirus can take paid sick leave. If an employee needs to look after a family member or a member of their household who is sick with coronavirus, or suffering an unexpected emergency, they are entitled to take paid carer’s leave.
Casual employees are entitled to two days of unpaid carer’s leave per occasion. Full-time and part-time employees can take unpaid carer’s leave if they have no paid sick or carer’s leave left.
An employee must give their employer reasonable evidence of the illness or unexpected emergency if their employer asks for it. This will also apply to situations relating to coronavirus.
What if an employee is stuck overseas or is required to be quarantined or to self-isolate?
Employees should contact their employer immediately if they are unable to attend work because they cannot return from overseas, are required to enter quarantine or to self-isolate because of the coronavirus.
The Fair Work Act does not have specific rules for these kinds of situations so employees and employers need to come to their own arrangement. This may include:
- working from home or another location (if this is a practical option), noting they should review any applicable enterprise agreement, award,
- employment contracts or workplace policies
- taking sick leave if the employee is sick
- taking annual leave
- taking any other leave available to them (such as long service leave or any other leave available under an award, enterprise agreement or employment contract)
- arranging any other paid or unpaid leave by agreement between the employee and the employer.
What if an employee wants to stay at home as a precaution?
If an employee wants to stay at home as a precaution they will need to come to an arrangement with their employer that best suits their workplace, such as making a request to work from home (if this is a practical option) or to take some form of paid or unpaid leave, such as annual leave or long service leave.
What if an employer wants their staff to stay home?
Under workplace health and safety laws, employers must ensure the health and safety of their workers and others at the workplace as far as is reasonably practicable. Workers also have responsibilities under those laws.
If an employee is at risk of infection from coronavirus (for example, because they’ve recently travelled from overseas, or have been in close contact with someone who has the virus), employers should request that they work from home (if this is a practical option) or not work during the risk period.
Where an employer directs an employee not to work due to workplace health and safety risks, the employee is generally entitled to be paid while the direction applies. However, if an employee cannot work because they are subject to a government order requiring them to self-quarantine, the employee is not ordinarily entitled to be paid (unless they use leave entitlements).
Employers should consider whether their obligations are impacted by any applicable enterprise agreement, award, employees’ employment contracts or workplace policies.
Employers need to balance their legal obligations, including those relating to anti-discrimination.
What about casual employees and independent contractors?
Casual employees do not have paid sick or carer’s leave entitlements under the National Employment Standards and usually are not entitled to be paid when they do not work (for example, if they miss a shift because they are sick due to coronavirus or because they are otherwise required to self-isolate). Employers should also consider their obligations under any applicable enterprise agreement, award, employees’ employment contracts or workplace policies.
QCOSS’ template for Workplace guidelines for COVID-19 response for staff is based on the ACOSS template for resilient community organisations.
The guidelines include information about working from home arrangements, ways of working, travel, meetings, and events.
There is also a home office self-assessment checklist for employees to review their arrangements and identify any issues for further discussion with their managers.
For more information on business continuity planning including useful templates visit the business continuity planning page on Community Door.
Workplace health and safety planning tool
Safe Work Australia has created an infographic tool to support small businesses to operate safely and manage work health and safety risks from COVID-19. The Small business planning tool outlines key steps for safely operating a business during the COVID-19 pandemic.
WHS guidance for COVID-19 is available for more than 30 different industries on key topics including duties under WHS laws, risk assessments, physical distancing, cleaning and hygiene.
Work health and safety plan for COVID-19 template
Workplace Health and Safety Queensland have provided a template to record your Work health and safety plan for COVID-19. The information recorded will help your workers and others know exactly what to do and expect.
Refer to the Work health and safety during COVID-19 guide to assist in completing the plan.
Infection control training
The Australian Department of Health is offering free online training on infection control. The training covers the fundamentals of infection prevention and control for COVID-19. The site also has COVID-19 fact sheets and posters for downloading.
Workplace risk management
Pandemic risk management for business
The Queensland Government has provided a Pandemic risk management for business guide on how your organisation can manage the risks associated with a pandemic.
Your obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act
During this crisis, it is important to remember your workplace obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld).
The Act is in place to ensure the health and safety of workers and others. Under the Act, employers need to ensure that the work health and safety of each of their workers and others is not affected by the conduct of the business.
As an organisation, your obligations include:
- Ensuring your employees are not exposed to risks to their health and safety
- Providing and maintaining a safe and healthy work environment
- Ensuring safe systems of work
- Providing and maintaining safe equipment
- Providing information, instruction, training and supervision to ensure health and safety
- Putting in place effective health and safety management practices which protect visitors to the workplace
- Ensuring that all others who enter into your workplace, including volunteers, contractors and members of the public are not exposed to risks to their health and safety.
For more information on workplace rights and obligations visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website.
Safe Work Australia
WorkCover Queensland has released a helpful COVID-19 FAQs section, answering general questions workers, employers and medical and allied health providers may have including:
- If my work has to close down due to COVID-19, will I be covered for lost wages?
- What information do I need to provide to lodge a claim for COVID-19?
- What safety measures do I need to take to protect my workers?
- Does WorkCover cover my worker’s wages during this quarantine period?