SEQ lockdown: What work can continue FAQ
What work can continue during the SEQ lockdown? Can businesses in the lockdown zone carry out a job in a council area that is not locked down? Can employees access annual leave during a stand-down?
In this lockdown FAQ MEA’s Employer Advice Team and Safety Team have answered many of the most common questions electrical contractors have during the current SEQ COVID-19 lockdown.
Q. What are the reasons electrical work can be carried out during the lockdown
A. There are three areas of work that are allowed during the lockdown:
- All construction work, keeping the customer separate if required;
- Emergency work;
- Work to make a renovation safe, functional, or serviceable.
If a premise is unoccupied, work can continue during the lockdown. This includes new builds.
COVID Safe plans must be in place, and masks must be work at all times when outside of places of residence, in workplaces (including on building and constructions sites where it is safe to do so) and on public transport.
Emergency electrical work is considered essential work under the lockdown. Under the Queensland Residential Tenancies Act, emergency repairs are:
- a burst water service or a serious water service leak;
- a blocked or broken lavatory system or fittings;
- a serious roof leak;
- a gas leak;
- a dangerous electrical fault;
- flooding or serious flood damage;
- serious storm, fire or impact damage;
- a failure or breakdown of the gas, electricity or water supply to the premises;
- a failure or breakdown of an essential service or appliance on premises for hot water, cooking or heating;
- a fault or damage that makes premises unsafe or unsecure;
- a fault or damage likely to injure a person, damage property or unduly inconvenience a tenant of premises;
- a serious fault in any staircase, lift or other common area which inhibits or unduly inconveniences residents in gaining access to or using the premises.
Advice from the Queensland Department of Energy and Public Works states that:
“Given the extended duration of the lockdown it may now not be feasible to postpone planned renovations, repairs or maintenance required to ensure a property is accessible, safe and functional. This may include work on the interior, exterior or grounds of a property.”
MEA advises that you discuss with your client what work must be completed and what can be delayed until after the lockdown is complete. Any work that is purely cosmetic should be delayed. Work that is required to make a property functional, safe, or liveable can continue.
Q. Where can I find a COVID Safe plan?
A. MEA has developed a COVID Code of Practice for the electrical contracting industry. This is available for the entire electrical industry. It can be downloaded here: https://masterelectricians.com.au/covid-19resources
Read more from MEA
Q. Can I travel outside the lockdown zone to carry out essential work?
A. Yes, but you must still follow the lockdown rules. Work is considered a reason to travel and to leave the lockdown zone. But if you were in the lockdown zone from Saturday, 31 July you must continue to adhere to the lockdown rules even outside the 11 affected local government areas.
You must wear masks, ensure you have a COVID Safe plan in place, and have no contact with other people. You cannot go out to dinner or get a drink as if the lockdown was not in effect.
Your presence may mean those in the non-lockdown areas may need to adhere to lockdown rules. Discuss with your client if they are comfortable with you carrying out the work now, or if it can be delayed.
Q. If I no longer have work because of the lockdown can I stand down staff?
A. Yes. If the State Government mandate has prevented your business from carrying out work, it meets the criteria to stand down employees without pay.
You will need to provide any stood down employees with a stand down letter detailing with the hours they have lost so they can access Federal Government assistance.
A stand down is not a termination. These workers remained employed by you. They can be tasked to carry out emergency jobs that may arise. Workers may access annual leave or rostered days off.
Q. Can I stand down some workers but not others?
A. Yes. That is at the discretion of the employer.
Q. If a stood down employee is called in to carry out an allowed emergency job, do they get paid for the hours worked, or for a full day?
A. If a worker is required to carry out an emergency job, that is allowed under the current restrictions, they must be paid in line with the provisions of the award. The award dictates that a worker’s minimum engagement is four hours. If the job occurs out of normal hours then overtime would apply.
Q. Do workers qualify for government assistance if they have unused annual leave? Can workers use a combination of leave and government assistance?
A. Stood down workers do not need to have used all their leave before they qualify for government assistance. If a worker’s hours have decreased by more than 20 hours per week they can apply for a $600 per week payment.
If you stand down workers during the lockdown period it is important that you provide them with a letter detailing this. They can then use this letter to prove they have been stood down.
Workers can access annual leave, long-service leave, or RDOs during stand down periods. They can combine the stand down payments with taking leave.
Q. What assistance is there for businesses during the south-east Queensland lockdown?
A. The Queensland Government has announced a Business Support Package for businesses that have lost turnover as a result of the lockdown. Eligible businesses will receive a one-off grant of $5000 that may be used for business expenses.
The business does not have to be located in the lockdown zone to qualify, as long as it meets the eligibility criteria.
For further information please contact the Employer Advice Line. Master Electricians have unlimited, direct access to the MEA Employer Advice line. Phone 1300 889 198.