Updated 31 August 2021
To help you prepare your workforce and manage your business through a transition from Alert level 4 to 3 change in alert levels, the team at HR Assured has whipped up a checklist containing over 25 practical employment and H&S tips.
Whether you’re an essential business, operating remotely or able to open safely under Alert Level 3, we hope you find the guidance below helpful.
Three golden rules
To protect all Kiwis and get our country back to being COVID-free, here are three indispensable rules for businesses during a Level 3 lockdown.
1. Work from home if possible
Under level 3, everyone should work from home if they can, and all products and services must be contactless. If working from home isn’t possible, your business can open if you have measures in place to operate safely.
2. Physical distancing and face masks
If your business can’t limit contact between people during Alert level 3, you unfortunately, cannot open. At Level 3, you legally must ensure all persons to maintain a one-metre distance between each other (and two metres in public and uncontrolled spaces). All customer-facing employees must also wear a mask.
3. Contact tracing
Every organisation must have the official Government contact tracing QR code on display. Plus, a paper register and pen for anyone who doesn’t have a smartphone on them when entering your business premises. Make sure your QR codes and contact tracing register are easily accessible to all people. Mandatory record-keeping is required for people aged over 12.
Tips for managing people
- If your workers can work from home, circulate your Working from Home Policy within your teams. These policies and procedures are crucial to ensure operations continue smoothly and to the best of everyone’s ability.
- When working from home is not an option, consider rostering your staff to limit the number of workers in the workplace and spread work availability as fairly as possible.
- Make sure you have the correct contact and emergency contact details recorded on every employee personnel file.
- Establish a central source of truth for regular updates about the situation and Government requirements to staff, for example, your company intranet, an employee self-service portal, or an email address that your employees can easily reference.
- If you can safely open under Level 3, we recommend heading over to this article where you can download a free COVID-19 return to work checklist.
- If your employees must travel across the Level 4 and 3 borders for essential work, they must have an authorised Business Travel Document. You can apply for these here.
Managing health and safety at work
- Ensure you have the right people, with the proper training and qualifications to operate tools and processes safely.
- Continue to ensure remote workers are safe by completing a health and safety checklist .
- Make sure you have an online process for reporting hazards and incidents, and that everyone knows how to follow the process.
- Use virtual meeting technology to check-in with your staff. Make sure they’re taking care of their well-being at home and discuss health and safety requirements while remote or if coming on-site.
- Changing workplace practices can create new risks to health and safety, including mental health. Organise a virtual consultation involving workers from all different areas to identify and create solutions that minimise these new risks.
- Make sure your Infection Control at Work Policy is up to date and covers how your business will deal with COVID-19.
- Develop a plan for if the Ministry of Health contacts you about potential exposure to COVID-19 at your workplace.
- Do all your customer-facing staff have access to single-use face-masks if they don’t have their own? Keep some handy just in case!
Head to Worksafe for more information on managing your health and safety under COVID-19 restrictions.
Workplace systems and technology
- Make sure your staff have the right technology available to them to work remotely and access all business tools and systems safely.
- Work with your IT provider to make sure remote access is private and secure.
Managing customers and suppliers
- Check-in with your suppliers. If the level 3 lockdown has disrupted them, do you have steps in place for mitigating any knock-on effect on your business?
- Identify if other suppliers in other regions may supply what you need as an intermediary solution.
- Communicate any delays or changes in service or product to your customers and suppliers due to the alert level change.
- If possible, roll out online or contactless processes to serve your customers safely.
- Where contactless or online services are not an option for your business, make sure you communicate this disruption to your customers and suppliers, including when you expect to be back in operation.
Regulation and Government support
- Establish a method of communicating the most up to date health advice to keep ALL staff informed of any changes to public and business requirements.
- Identify the go-to people in your business to seek advice from when interpreting any employment or workplace law. They may be internal or outsourced advisors like the team at HR Assured.
- Develop a succession plan in the unlikely event (remembering that COVID-19 is an unpredictable beast) that your whole team or critical persons in your businesses are out of action due to isolation, falling sick or exposure to the virus. You want to avoid a complete closure of your business if possible.
- The Government currently has two financial support schemes operating to provide leave support for businesses and employees: the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme and the Short-term Absence Payment. Both have different application criteria, and it may be worth looking into these for your business.
- The Wage Subsidy Scheme and Resurgence Support Payment is also in available for eligible employers. For more guidance on the financial support available for businesses during a COVID-19 lockdown, read this blog.
For our clients, we want you to know that the Telephone Advisory Service is here to support you so you can continue your day-to-day business and navigating your recovery. You can also access the following COVID-19 related templates to help you manage COVID-19 related workplace changes:
- Home-based Work Health & Safety Checklist;
- Working from Home Policy;
- Work from Home Agreement;
- Employee Induction Checklists (eSS and Standard Versions) with additional steps to help you implement working from home arrangements; and
- Coronavirus Infection and Control Policy.
Each of these policies can be created in HRA Cloud and sent to your employees digitally via eSS.
Not an HR Assured client and need some advice? The team at HR Assured can support your business on a range of workplace matters. Contact us today to arrange a confidential, no-obligation chat.
This article is intended to be used as a guide for employers and should not replace official Government guidance.
- Worksafe guidelines for operating safely during COVID-19: https://www.worksafe.govt.nz/managing-health-and-safety/novel-coronavirus-covid/operating-safely-what-you-need-to-think-about/
- COVID-19 guidelines for alert level 3: https://covid19.govt.nz/alert-system/alert-level-3/