Dear OPEA Member, At this unprecedented time in our lives, where we are all dealing with the threat of Covid-19 and the myriad of issues concerning maintaining our lively-hoods and ensuring the well-being of our loved ones and families. I sincerely hope you are all keeping well and closely following the almost daily growing list of necessary precautions recommended by our government and health authorities, as is required to mitigate the spread of Coronavirus in Australia.
Many of our members running dealerships we appreciate are facing uncertain times regarding ongoing trading and employment. Please be aware that until further notice of escalation from our federal government, you are permitted to continue trading with the public for the time being. However going forward, please consider the effect that your decision will have on the health and wellbeing of your staff members. I.e. In the coming days, you may need to discuss additional precautions with your staff over and above the social distancing measures recommended by our government etc. If for example, you are aware that you have staff members working in your business that are in the following risk groups: i.e. staff which are seventy or eighty something years of age, or have pre-existing conditions (Diabetes) or compromised immune systems etc., please consider further precautions to safe guard these employees. Please also ensure that employees that self-diagnose or are suspected of having or exhibit symptoms of the virus or similar remain at home. In the event that an employee falls ill with the virus during employment, all subsequent employees in contact or in vicinity of the infected person will need to self-isolate and under no circumstances have any further contact with the public.
Note: In the case of employees convalescing at home from illness. The normal rules of sick/personal leave apply. I.e. for durations longer than a single day, a medical certificate will need to be presented to the employer. Employers should also be aware and express tolerance towards employees getting medical certificates back to you in a timely manner, as this may get more difficult to organise over time. If employees through mutual arrangement with their employer feel that it is best to stay home during this period i.e. they are in a high risk group themselves or caring for someone in that group. Then they are entitled to use any Annual or Long Service leave, which they have at their disposal.
If, or when the need arises to unfortunately stand down employees. Please remember the following:
- Treat your employees in an open and respectful manner when breaking any bad news to them.
- Emphasise to your employees that they are your most valuable assets and being stood down does not mean that they are being retrenched.
- Please ensure that you discuss leave arrangements and entitlements with them prior to any such stand down.
- Remain in regular contact with all your employees.
Some of our industry supplier and dealer members no doubt will be working from home (maybe) for the first time during this period. Therefore, please remember to take some time out to assess and ensure that the home office environment is safe of hazards or distractions and comfortable enough to fulfil a full working day and week. Additionally, try to set yourself a daily reminder to get out of the office and exercise or go for a daily walk. There are guideline re working from home at:
Employers please understand that you have obligations under the OH&S Act 2011 concerning providing a safe workplace and that covers employees working from home. Therefore, please ensure that some due diligence is taken concerning ensuring that home based staff have performed a self-assessment of their home office working arrangements.
As an Association, we have taken the urgent preliminary steps in contacting our federal government to try and have our industry (or parts thereof) reclassified as an essential service provider.
Our decision was based on our industries feedback and our strong belief that we need to ensure vital equipment supply links remain open in the event of emergencies such as firefighting, floods and food processing requirements in the face of Covid-19. The OPEA will keep pushing for the continued viability of our industry and its members.
Small business employers that are facing financial hardship or hurdles may consider 1/ contacting your local councils concerning relief packages that some councils have rolled out. 2/ additionally, there will be financial relief packages available for struggling businesses through state and federal government assistance programs. A good place to start is to check the links provided below:
Please note that our association is available to field enquiries and questions from our dealers and supplier members. Please direct any questions through our administrators at the AI Group, where your questions will re-directed to the right person that can assist at the OPEA. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org and the Ai Group web-site also has useful information at www.aigroup.com.au
Additionally, for supplier members our website and statistics portal remains accessible at this time.
I have attached some other important website links that may useful below:
- If you have any questions regarding COVID-19, please visit: www.health.gov.au
- Another very informative and helpful website is: https://www.comcare.gov.au/prevent-harm/coronavirus
- And: https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-what-you-need-to-know
- The following link provides a simple a clear process if an employee tests positive to Covid-19: https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/sites/default/files/infographic_-_what_to_do_if_a_worker_covid-19.jpg
In closing, during this uncertain and rapidly event driven time, on behalf of the OPEA Board,
I wish you, your staff and families good and continued health.
Kind regards, Milan Mejak, President, Outdoor Power Equipment Association (OPEA)
Phone: 61 3 9867 0218