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Business Insights – Mandatory testing for construction in Vic – 31st Aug and update 6th Sept

I’m here with news exclusively for Victorian businesses in the construction sector on 31st August 2021.

Apparently on 26th August the Vic government added the construction section to those industries that now need to have their entire workforce proactively tested for COVID.

This means that if you work in the construction sector you will have to have 25% of your team tested for COVID-19 each week. Each person will be tested every four weeks.

See: https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/surveillance-testing-industry-list-covid-19

At this point, the following questions have not been answered:

  • Will the mandatory tests be paid or unpaid (and done on the employee’s own time)?
  • How will the testing regime be phased in – how will that work?
  • Will Vic gov payments (like the COVID test payment) be available for employees for unpaid leave to comply with testing requirements?

We contacted FairWork this morning to seek advice on the paid/unpaid testing time question. They were not able to provide an answer so we have escalated the enquiry and we’ll let you know as soon as there is an answer.

This obviously provides all types of logistical challenges and financial impacts for you as a construction industry employer.

With construction making up 10% of Victoria’s employment, this volume of people waiting at testing sites will cause bottlenecks and further impede productivity.

As soon as we have more details, your Tenfold business coach will let you know how to implement it effectively so you can continue to operate productively. With large construction sites limited to 25% and small scale construction limited to 5 people on site (outdoors), this seems like a big impost on a sector that is already heavily constrained in how they operate.

 

Ash

Ashley Thomson B.Eng. (Hons), Grad. Dip. Mgmt, MEI
Managing Director
Tenfold Business Coaching

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Update : 6th September 2021

This update is for the Victorian construction sector. Further information has been made available, which answers some of the questions from last week’s announcement.

Surveillance testing: no action required by you or your team at this time

There has been some further clarification on surveillance testing of the construction industry. This condition on workers is not yet being applied and it may not be implemented industry-wide. This means that if/when it comes into force, it is likely only on the large construction projects (think CBD towers) and not for clients doing small scale construction jobs.

While the official word is still not out, there is no need for any action to get people tested weekly/monthly.

We’ll keep monitoring this issue and bring you updates when they become available.

 

FairWork advice on testing

Our business coach team has followed up with Fair Work and obtained the following advice:

If your staff member is required to get a personal COVID-19 test due to a government enforceable direction (such as the mandate for the construction sector), they are not entitled to be paid for the time.

However, if you as the employer require the test (without the government enforceable direction) then your team member is entitled to use work/paid time to get tested. See this excerpt from Fair Work below:

 

For more information, visit Fair Work here: https://coronavirus.fairwork.gov.au/coronavirus-and-australian-workplace-laws/pay-leave-and-stand-downs/quarantine-self-isolation#getting-covid-19-tests

 

Specific vaccination targets for Construction to increase capacity to 50%

The Vic government has announced that the capacity limit on the construction sector will be increased if a vaccination target is met. If the construction industry has hit first vaccination of 90% of members by 23/9 (when the current lockdown has been extended to), then the construction industry will be able to move to 50% open rate.

We all know the construction sector has been singled out for extra restrictions (in comparison to manufacturing, for instance). It is good to see there has been some acknowledgement of this and a path for increasing capacity, all but only to 50%.

Ash

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