Coronavirus – How to keep up to date with changing laws

In this uniquely challenging and rapidly changing COVID-19 environment, it’s important to stay up to date with what’s happening in your state or territory. And with many restrictions now starting to ease around the country, a proactive approach is highly recommended.

One of the key aspects for employers and employees is an ongoing commitment to following the rules about COVID-19 and associated health and safety issues in the workplace to help slow down the spread of this coronavirus outbreak.

However, it’s not a case of one size fits all regions. Staged changes can differ significantly depending on where your business operates or where you need to travel. This can make it difficult to stay across all the current requirements relevant to you and your business, including what laws may have changed.

As each stage or restriction is rolled out, this prompts for bills to be prepared and amending laws to be enacted, including emergency measures during this pandemic. If you’re not sufficiently organised, staying on top of these changes can be cumbersome and confusing.

Nevertheless, the requirement for businesses to be aware of and demonstrate compliance is almost certainly set to increase to an even higher level. Regardless of circumstances, the onus will be on you to adapt.

COVID-19 laws and directions

Many coronavirus-related amending laws and directions have already been tabled and enacted in states or territories. For example, Victoria has authorised many provisions under related Acts, such as the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008, Planning and Environment Act 1987 and the Heavy Vehicle National Law Application Act.

A combined regulatory approach to Australian Work Health and Safety legislation for COVID-19 has been agreed upon and applies to all Work Health and Safety (WHS) Regulators in jurisdictions that have implemented the model WHS laws, as well as in Western Australia. The statement does not apply to the OHS Regulator in Victoria at this time.

This statement sets out the enforcement approach that WHS Regulators (excluding Victoria) will take to ensure compliance with Australian WHS laws during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whilst Safety Regulators recognise that the pandemic has created an exceptional set of circumstances and will have significant impacts on businesses, employers, your staff and any customers you may have, all businesses must prepare and take action to protect workers and others at their workplace from the risk of exposure to COVID-19.

Important industry resources

To assist in managing COVID-19 in your workplace, Safe Work Australia and each safety regulator have prepared a suite of industry resources for building and construction, NDIS, cleaning companies, utilities, manufacturing, logistics and the office.

Some workplaces, premises and facilities are also required to keep records of people who have attended, and to hold those records for 28 days. This represents two full incubation periods for COVID-19 and makes it likely that records will be available should tracers need to look back into who was potentially exposed.

Fair Work Australia can keep you up to date with Coronavirus and Australian workplace laws, including the JobKeeper wage subsidy, leave entitlements and changes to awards during this period. The Fair Work Act 2009 has also been updated related to the coronavirus economic response package.

Your business will need to be conscious of these laws and many other requirements.

How Integrated Compliance Solutions can help you

In these uncertain times, legislative compliance is imperative; however, staying informed on updates can be challenging, especially if organisations have limited resources. With our legislative updates service, businesses can ensure they stay up-to-date on the latest changes in legislation that are applicable to them.

By signing up, you can enjoy the peace of mind that comes with regular legislative updates, helping you stay on track for achieving continued compliance with your business’ regulatory requirements.

To find out more about becoming a member, get in touch with our team.

Future proofing your organisation

Looking ahead, there is no doubt that these restrictions, laws and allowable reasons will change in each stage. And it is important that you stay on top of these changes, be as prepared as possible and take comfort in the knowledge that you are aware of the situation.

At ICS we guide companies through this process, including developing or reviewing legislation registers, and updating these for specific new laws, pending amendments or important resource tools to manage COVID-19.

For more information, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team.

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