COVID-19 update: 1 September 2021

1 September 2021

The NSW regional lockdown has been extended until 10 September.

Long-term considerations: border closures

With no current plans to lift the QLD/NSW border restrictions, and with the NSW Government at this stage ruling out a move of border checkpoints south, if you work across the border or have been impacted by the closure, it’s time to start thinking longer-term about the issues that impact you, and ensuring you have business continuity plans in place to protect your business.

Business operation, employment & cashflow

Whether you employ staff or use contractors from across the border, have a site over the border or have experienced delays from interstate materials, if you haven’t done so already, it’s time to start thinking about alternative options. Think about alternative suppliers and start making connections with additional contractors that you can call on. Exploring alternatives now mean you’ll have more options down the track.

Start to consider what your long-term employment base looks like. Do you need to consider a longer stand down period, re-deployment of staff to different areas of the business or a change to your staffing levels?

Talk with your accountant about any necessary actions or recommendations that you should consider to ensure adequate cashflow.

Under the new rules, you are permitted to only travel for essential/critical work, which includes work that is urgently required:

  • For safety reasons
  • For emergency repairs
  • That is necessary to maintain essential services and supplies to the community, or part of the community.

It includes work performed by a tradesperson or construction worker for essential or emergency construction or repairs only.

It excludes work performed by commercial construction workers on non-critical projects.

Contracts works & liability insurance

If your site/s have been shut down due to the border closure, you need to be across the impact of a longer-term closure – including any insurance requirements for visiting your site (some policies require you to check on your site every 60 days).

If your contracts work and liability insurance policy is with Master Builders Insurance Services, give us a call and we can discuss to ensure you are complying with your policy to ensure continuity of cover.

A DIVISION OF QUEENSLAND MASTER BUILDERS ASSOCIATION. Australian Financial Services Licence No. 246834. Information contained herein is of a general nature and has not taken into account the particular insurance needs of any individual, business or person. Terms and conditions apply.

Dealing with delays contractually

Some ways to protect yourself in future contracts are to factor in longer construction periods, and to use allowances for Prime Cost Items and Provisional Sums for materials and products you suspect will be delayed or increase in price. 

You should also try to negotiate an entitlement to EOTs for delays caused by the unavailability of labour or subcontractors, the unavailability of materials, complying with changes to legislative requirements, and complying with industry shutdowns and travel restrictions.  

Call our Members Legal team or your own solicitor for advice on what you can do now and moving forward to factor in delays contractually.

QLD/NSW border - essential worker endorsement

Queensland construction workers can presently only cross the border for work in the NSW border zone in very limited circumstances, and from 1am Saturday, 21 August, they were also required to have had at least one dose of approved COVID-19 vaccine. If you fall outside the existing essential work definitions in the Border Restrictions Direction and haven’t been approved for a Border Zone Travel (X Pass), you can now apply via the Queensland Health Portal for an essential worker endorsement, which if approved, will allow you to enter the NSW border zone and return to Queensland.

You’ll need to answer a series of questions and providing supporting information from your employer to verify that the work you will be undertaking is essential. The Department of Energy and Public Works will review the application and if endorsed, you’ll be classified as an ‘other essential worker’ and provided with a letter that you will need to present, along with all other supporting information and identification when crossing the border. 

Don’t forget, if you are approved to enter the NSW border zone and return to Queensland, you’ll need to then follow all restrictions that are currently in place in NSW on your return, including staying at home for 14 days. 

Read more about travelling to Queensland.

Vaccinations

While currently employers can’t force workers to be vaccinated, they may require them to be vaccinated under specific circumstances (for example, a project related to a site that has a government mandated requirement – e.g. an aged care facility) and you can also encourage your workers with incentives and flexibility with time off to get vaccinated.

With vaccines now already mandatory for essential workers crossing the border, it’s important to get your workforce as ready as possible for any eventuality.

Got more questions?

We are here to answer any questions you might have, so please feel free to contact us or check out our range of COVID-19 resources.

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