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Supporting staff

Helping you retain and support your workforce through COVID-19

With employees one of the most important assets in running a successful business, it’s important to retain and support them in the wake of COVID-19.

Business owners should act now to reduce the risk of a coronavirus outbreak in their workplace, and ensure a safe working environment in line with current health advice and business restrictions.

Preventative actions include:

  • Encourage flexible working arrangements including working from home and off-peak travel.
  • Purchase COVID-19 prevention supplies, for example alcohol sanitisers or soap.
  • Provide and promote sanitisers for use on entering buildings.
  • Ensure high standards of routine environmental cleaning.
  • Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces regularly, including desks and keyboards.
  • Open windows, enhance airflow and adjust air conditioning.
  • Promote preventive actions amongst your staff - lead by example.
  • Avoid large indoor meetings and lunchrooms and use outdoor venues if possible.
  • Plan for increased levels of staff absences.
  • Plan for what to do if staff arrive sick to work.

For more information about keeping employees and customers safe during COVID-19, visit Safework Australia.

Support to continue employing your apprentices and trainees

There are ways to keep your apprentice or trainee engaged with their learning throughout periods of business downturn or closure.

Options to consider include:

  • Off-job training: This could mean online training and your apprentice should speak to their training provider. As an employer, you will need to continue to pay wages for the time your apprentice spends in attendance at training.
  • Flexible rostering: So that the contracted hours can continue to be met, subject to award conditions.
  • Discuss with your apprentice possible leave arrangements.
  • Suspend the training contract: There are several circumstances under which an employer may suspend an employee’s training contract for an agreed period of time. View the suspension application form or call the Skills Infoline if you’d like to learn more about this option: 1800 673 097.

For information about your responsibilities and obligations, visit Managing an apprentice.

If you have any questions regarding management of your apprentices or trainees, contact the Skills Infoline on 1800 673 097.

You can also speak with a member of the South Australian Skills Commission for independent and confidential support, including mediation if required. For more information, visit South Australian Skills Commission.

Boosting Apprenticeships Commencements

Under the Australian Government's COVID-19 economic recovery plan, it has been announced that an additional $1.2 billion will be invested to support businesses to employ new apprentices or trainees.

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Employee entitlements

The Fair Work Act does not have specific rules where employees are delayed overseas or in quarantine, so employees and employers need to come to their own arrangement. This may include:

  • 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 contract of employment)
  • arranging any other paid or unpaid leave by agreement between the employee and the employer.

For further information, you can contact the Fair Work Ombudsman on 13 13 94 or visit Fair Work Ombudsman.