Critically essential roles and business continuity planning

Critically essential workers

In Queensland, some critically essential workers can now provide essential services even while classified as a COVID-19 close contact, provided they meet strict health criteria.

This change is designed to ensure the continued supply of essential goods and services to the community. The measures are only in place for close contacts who are fully vaccinated and asymptomatic.

Employers should determine if their organisation or business falls under the narrow list of critical industries, then identify which roles within their organisation are critical and cannot be performed from home, before notifying the Queensland Government. A flow chart in the Resources area may help you to confirm whether your proposed worker list will be supported. Also check our video section for a webinar produced by Growcom for Queensland agribusiness with information about what is a critically essential role, and other agribusiness continuity planning considerations.

This is a self-assessment process. Employers who meet the requirements specified by Queensland Health are not required to seek approval before asking staff who would otherwise be a close contact if they are able to return to work.

Employers are encouraged to engage with their employees and unions throughout the decision making process.

What employers need to do

  1. Decide if your business is on the list of critical industries and approved ANZIC categories.
  2. Create a Critical Worker Roles List of critically essential roles using the template (in the resources area) to identify the roles and estimated number of workers in each role.
  3. Email your Critical Worker Roles List to: criticalworkerlodgement@dsdilgp.qld.gov.au

Your Critical Roles List can also be created and submitted via the COVID-19 Services Portal - Queensland Health.
Register your details and then select the ‘submit roles in your business as a critically essential worker’ tile and complete the form. The form will ask you to identify the roles and estimated number of workers in each role.

The Critical Worker Roles List must be submitted no later than three days after commencing your close contacts at work. Employers must also keep a record of their Critical Worker Roles List and produce it if requested by an emergency officer.

The decision to allow a close contact to return to perform critically essential work requires careful consideration of the heightened risks to other workers and business operations. Close contacts are more likely to contract COVID-19. It’s important to continue to focus on relevant health protections and restrict any close contact resuming work to only the most critical roles.

The employer’s assessment may be reviewed by the Queensland Government and be invalid if it is found to be inaccurate.

We recommend that you keep an accurate record of close contacts that have returned to the workplace to undertake critically essential roles and for what days, roles and shifts they attended. This will help you identify any risks of COVID-19 spreading to other staff should they subsequently test positive. Your HR system may be suitable, or you can use the Business record - Quarantine waiver record template in the resources area.

Requirements for critically essential workers

Close contact workers also need to meet requirements such as wearing personal protective equipment, monitoring symptoms and using private transport to and from work.

Workers must continue their quarantine when not performing their essential role until the end of their quarantine period, and have a COVID test on day 6.

Reminders

  • The measures are only in place for close contacts who are fully vaccinated (including a booster where eligible) and are asymptomatic
  • A limited list of critical industries and critical roles can use the process
  • You may be asked for further information to verify the roles identified as critically essential meet the criteria

Find out more at:Critically Essential Worker requirements.

Check out the frequently asked questions section on the right.

Preparing agribusinesses for COVID-19 cases

COVID-19 cases are impacting the agriculture industry as positive cases isolate and close contacts quarantine. The reduction in the available workforce will likely impact some supply chains intermittently as virus infections peak.

Your agribusinesses can put measures into place now, such as reviewing your COVID safe plan and business planning to minimise the impacts on your operations.

This site has resources and information to help Queensland agribusinesses prepare and respond to COVID-19 incidents in their community.

When developing your business continuity plan, consider the following:

  • cleaning and sanitation - adopt hygiene practices, provide sanitation products (e.g. hand sanitiser/wipes), and maintain cleaning of equipment and work surfaces
  • impact scenarios - plan for to operate with a reduced workforce, upskill employees to address capability gaps and identify how to source equipment and resources from other providers
  • support staff – encourage your staff to be vaccinated and seek a booster, provide interpreter or translation services for culturally diverse workers, and review leave and care arrangements.

Use the checklists for employers and employees in the Resources section of this page. A webinar video steps you through each stage when developing a business continuity plan.

Use the template in the Resources section of this page.

Engage a private provider for booster shots

Agribusinesses may wish to engage a private vaccination provider to deliver on-site vaccine boosters. This can be done through the Vaccine Administration Partners Program (VAPP) panel. The VAPP panel of immunisation providers was established by the Federal Government to support Australia's COVID-19 vaccination rollout. Once a contract with a workplace is in place, the VAPP provider will order COVID-19 vaccines through the National COVID-19 Vaccine Taskforce to vaccinate the workplace. The lead time for ordering vaccines is currently two weeks.

Business planning for food processing facilities

Processing facilities are critical to the supply of food.

Taskforce to support agribusinesses prepare for COVID-19

The Taskforce will support responses to incursions, resources for business continuity planning, and help to manage impacts on the Queensland food supply chain.