Employers, as PCBU'S (persons conducting a business or undertaking), have a variety of legal obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 to eliminate (or where not reasonably practicable to do so, to mitigate) health and safety risks, so far as is reasonably practicable. This includes minimising the spread of infectious disease within the workplace.
We have a dedicated HR/employment team who can assist you in developing a plan around minimising the spread of infectious disease within the work place. Please contact one of our employment/ HR lawyers if you need help with any of the following:
- Understanding your Health and Safety obligations and/or developing a Healthy and Safety Manual
- Developing a Business Continuity Plan
- Developing a Travel Policy for employees
- Developing a Leave Entitlements Policy (including detailing how to respond to workers who are in self-isolation but are not sick)
- Putting a plan in place for those infected by the virus and/or those who are required to be in self-isolation
In addition, we would recommend all employers put in place these basic health and safety measures:
- Educate workers on COVID-19 symptoms, how to mitigate exposure and where to obtain up to date information and advice. See: https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus
- Educate workers on covering mouth and nose when sneezing/ coughing (use tissues and then dispose of the tissues directly into the bin, then wash hands properly).
- Educate workers on effective hand-washing (for at least 20 seconds with warm water and soap, dry thoroughly).
- Ensure your workplace is well cleaned and maintained (including air-conditioning systems) and surfaces are regularly wiped down.
- Ensure your workplace has adequate hand sanitiser, soap, hand towels (preferably disposable) and other cleaning products available to workers (and customers/visitors) that have access to your workplace.
- Offer flu vaccinations to workers.
- Ensure workers understand that if they are unwell they must stay home and they should avoid public gatherings and events.
- Educate works to avoid close contact with anyone who is unwell.
- Consult the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade guidelines on travel before requiring workers to travel for work (see the Safe Travel Website)
If you have any questions about COVID-19 and your legal obligations to workers, please contact the employment team at Davenports Harbour Lawyers.