It’s hardly rocket surgery (as Kath and Kim would have it) to say that COVID-19 has altered Australian workplaces forever and that we’ve all been and continue to work our way through how it all looks and impacts us, our workplaces, our organisations, what legal risks it presents and how to navigate those.
You might have caught our recent piece in The Ballarat Courier about employer’s seeing COVID-19 as an opportunity to increase focus on workplace psychological safety. Alongside this, we’ve identified the hot spots for your organisation in terms of legal risks and right now, the need for further legal support from us is most immediate on these issues:
Lacey & Co have long advocated and supported the benefits of flexible workplaces, so the prospect of a huge number of employees suddenly working from home is something we’ve been preparing for since forever. There’s no escaping that employers simply must be informed about, analyse and act on the issues arising out of working from home. As we always say, prevention is better than cure and you simply must ensure workplace safety for your employees right now, no matter where they’re workstations might be;
Moreover, where your workplace culture hasn’t prioritised being absolutely clear about expectations within each team and for each member of that team and in association with one another, where you haven’t overtly and transparently worked to reasonably set these, and then adapted them as circumstances have inevitably changed recently, then the lines of communication within your team might really suffer when everyone is dispersed and WFH. That means that inter-personal interactions and conflict can escalate to legal issues, which is something that your organisation really doesn’t need right now. We can help with both the prevention and the cure of these issues, so that your people can be as productive as possible, even in this climate;
Mental health issues are also declaring themselves for so many people as a result of isolation, trying to support kids’ schooling, the stress of our social and economic situations, fear about the disease itself, all on the back of a bushfire season which impacted – indeed decimated – parts of our community. Times are tough. Those issues need to be acknowledged and negotiated respectfully and in accordance with the law, especially with regard to discrimination laws. There’s a great deal of simple, preventative work which Lacey & Co can offer you which will avoid you legal issues arising and making what’s hard, almost impossible;
Family Violence issues have never been more acute and more dangerous. Before this pandemic, the WHO declared violence against women a global pandemic so some of your workers will presently be navigating not one but two deadly pandemics, simultaneously. As an employer, you’ve also never been more legally responsible for those risks. In collaboration with Commerce Ballarat; we’ve produced a detailed webinar and supporting documents to provide guidance for employers and colleagues on family violence during COVID-19, we’re providing it gratis, here, because it’s an issue we care passionately about and about which we all absolutely must be informed;
The risks to essential workers who must continue to attend the workplace must continuously be analysed and stepped through. Hygiene policies and procedures are especially urgent and need updating so as there’s clarity and safety for your essential workers when they’re required to support us all. On this, we’ve produced Hygiene Policies and Procedures; and a Reckless Conduct Guide (there’s more to think through once those basics are covered, so contact us to talk these issues through for your organisation);
Stand-downs, shutdowns, redundancies and alternatives
When the COVID-19 restrictions were initially announced we were working with some of our clients forced to navigate stand-downs and shutdowns or help them pivot in ingenious ways. We have a series of resources to help you navigate that very difficult terrain if your organisation is still forced to contemplate stand-downs, shutdowns, redundancies and alternatives; and
JobKeeper has lessened the impact of this for many organisations although most organisations are still trying to work their way through eligibility; how it will apply and how to keep going until payments are received. Lacey & Co is ready, willing and able to work with your accounting and finance experts to provide the legal support that you need on JobKeeper related issues as the landscape (and legislation) changes, seemingly day by day.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, uncertain or confused by any of the above; or if this time has made you recognise you need to engage better in these spaces; please give us a call on +61 3 911 156 55, we’re looking forward to working with you.