Hon Mark McGowan BA LLB MLA

Hon Mark McGowan BA LLB MLA

Premier; Treasurer; Minister for Public Sector Management; Federal-State Relations

Hon Amber-Jade Sanderson BA MLA

Hon Amber-Jade Sanderson BA MLA

Minister for Health; Mental Health

    Critical worker furloughing registration system available now

    21/02/2022 9:30 AM
     
    • Eligible employers can register their critical worker roles online, as part of WA's COVID management, if they are likely to need them in a very high case load environment
    • When in effect, the critical worker exemption allows critical workers, who are asymptomatic close contacts, to temporarily attend work during their isolation period to alleviate workforce shortages
    • Exemption from isolation for critical workers cannot be used yet and will only be introduced, based on health advice, in a very high caseload environment for certain workforces as a last resort
    • Online registration system is available on WA.gov.au
    • Registration is a crucial step in preparing for a very high case load environment

    The State Government has today launched the online critical worker furloughing registration system for employers of workers who meet the critical worker criteria, as part of Western Australia's COVID-19 management for when WA is in a very high caseload environment.

     

    Eligible employers are urged to register their critical workers now, in the event they are likely to need them in a very high case load environment.

     

    The exemption from isolation for asymptomatic critical workers will form an important part of WA's COVID-19 management when a very high caseload environment is reached.

     

    It will address potential workforce shortages and ensure critical supply chains and services are able to continue without disruption due to more people isolating.

     

    A critical worker is someone whose role cannot be undertaken at home and who performs a critical role:

    • to the COVID-19 response; or
    • to continuation of critical services that prevent significant harm to an individual or community (including loss of life, catastrophic impacts to safety or welfare or lack of access to essential goods); or
    • that is necessary for the safe continuation of services in an essential industry or provides specialist skills in an essential industry.

    Eligible industries are:

    • Transport, freight and logistics, including public transport;
    • Food, beverage and pharmaceutical manufacturing, supply and retail (e.g. supermarkets, grocery stores and pharmacies);
    • Petrol stations and truck stops;
    • Agriculture (for the purpose of food supply and biosecurity);
    • Critical resources including mining, power, utilities, telecommunications and waste management services;
    • Building and construction;
    • Corrective and judicial services;
    • Police and emergency services;
    • Schools (K-12) and childcare (schools are subject to specific protocols and not required to register);
    • Health care services (health care services are not covered by the COVID Transition (Critical Worker) Directions, are subject to separate furloughing guidance and are not required to register);
    • Social assistance and residential care;
    • Veterinary services;
    • Funeral, crematorium and cemetery services;
    • Defence.

    The online system requires an employer to complete and submit an online registration form at WA.gov.au, confirming their eligibility and how many critical roles they have identified.

     

    Employers will also be required to declare to comply with the relevant directions if, and when, they apply the critical worker settings in their workplace. Employers are expected to consider the suitability of the policy in their workplace, and consult with affected staff.

     

    The registration must be completed by the Chief Executive Officer or equivalent of the organisation or their delegate, and that person must verify their personal identification.

     

    Employers must complete and submit this form by the time the critical worker settings are applied in their workplace, noting this policy is not yet in effect and will only be implemented based on health advice in a very high caseload environment.

     

    The critical worker exemption permits certain critical workers who are asymptomatic close contacts to temporarily attend work during their isolation period to alleviate workforce shortages, maintain critical services and avoid catastrophic losses such as loss of life, ongoing access to care and goods, and workplace safety.

     

    This should only be used by an employer as a last resort for a temporary period given the significant risks associated with an asymptomatic close contact attending the workplace. 

     

    Employers must make reasonable efforts to plan alternative strategies and explore all avenues for replacement workers prior to calling upon critical workers who are an asymptomatic close contact.

     

    They must also have the agreement of the critical worker who is an asymptomatic close contact to attend work during the isolation period. Employers must also implement appropriate risk management strategies in the workplace.

     

    Strict conditions also apply for critical workers who attend work under these settings, including providing daily negative Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs), being fully vaccinated (including a third dose if eligible), wearing a mask at all times, and self-isolating when not at work.

     

    If at any point the critical worker tests positive or develops symptoms, they are no longer permitted to attend work.

     

    High caseload COVID-19 protocols are already in effect State-wide, including new close contact definitions and testing and isolation protocols, the use and registration of RATs and reduced quarantine for approved interstate and international travellers.

     

    For more information, visit WA.gov.au

     

    Comments attributed to Premier Mark McGowan:

     

    "Our approach has allowed us to learn from the experiences in the Eastern States, so we can avoid the worst of Omicron and minimise the disruption to critical supply chains and services, while maintaining community safety.

     

    "Similar critical worker settings were introduced too late in other jurisdictions when the transmission speed of Omicron meant thousands and thousands of workers were off work, causing significant economic disruption.

     

    "We are in the unique position of being able to have these settings detailed and ready for use when the time is right.

     

    "The critical worker policy will not apply to everyone. It is only for use as a necessary last resort, and is not intended for employers to bring in asymptomatic close contacts to ensure business can operate as usual."

     

    Comments attributed to Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson:

     

    "I strongly encourage employers to start thinking about whether this policy might apply to them, and submit their registration form as soon as possible if it does.

     

    "This policy strikes the right balance, and broadly reflects national guidelines around workers in priority sectors.

     

    "We know how quickly Omicron can spread. We must be prepared to keep critical services going when we hit a very high caseload."

     

    Premier's office - 6552 5000

    Minister's office - 6552 5200