COVID-19 FAQs for Host Employers
As you are aware from recent media, a new strain of coronavirus is causing health and business impacts across the world. This strain can cause respiratory disease called COVID-19.
Golden West Apprenticeships will work with our host employers regarding the best ways to minimise the impact of COVID-19 on the apprentices and trainees you host. We also need work with you regarding these impacts while taking into account advice and/or directions from the Government and Health Authorities.
What happens if an apprentice or trainee or their family member is sick with Coronavirus?
If the apprentice is sick with the Coronavirus they may access their sick leave entitlements. If a family or household member of the apprentice or trainee is sick and they need to look after them, they can access carer’s leave. In both these situations, the host employer and Golden West Apprenticeships may request evidence to support the leave claim.
What happens if an apprentice or trainee wants to stay home as a precaution?
Unless the apprentice or trainee has a medical condition or been directed by an Authority, they do not have any entitlement to take sick leave. However, Golden West, the host and apprentice or trainee may negotiate to take annual leave, RDOs, work from home or take leave without pay.
What happens if I want to send my apprentice or trainee is sent home as a precautionary measure, or if I shut down my business for 14 days as precautionary measure?
If you, as the host employer, has adopted a shut-down as a precautionary measure and not related to any direction from the health authorities and there is no evidence of any medical issues applying at that workplace, the apprentice or trainee would need to be paid. They could also be asked to work from home depending upon the type of work they undertake.
What happens if my business is required to close down as a result of the Coronavirus or its supply chain of components and materials has been impacted by the Coronavirus?
This situation may fall under the stand down provisions in S. 524 of the Fair Work Act which provides for an employee to be stood-down without pay but only where the employee cannot be usefully employed due to a stoppage of work for which the employer cannot reasonably be held responsible. If an employee is being stood down under the Fair Work Act they need to be advised that this is the case. Even though they are not being paid they continue to accrue leave.
Each close-down situation would need to be assessed as to whether it meets the definition of not being usefully employed for a reason outside the employer’s control. There is case law about limits on using stand down provisions – but in general if the Health Department ordered closure of an establishment then this would most likely fall into that definition as it is outside the employer’s control. Should this event be likely, please immediately discuss with your Training and Employment Coordinator.
What support may be available to me as host employers, so I can continue to keep my in work?
As you are aware, Government funding has been announced for small businesses (fewer than 20 employees) who have apprentices (including those who are engaged through a GTO), this funding should be used to support our host employers through these times. Apprentices must have been engaged by 1st March 2020 to be eligible. Guidelines for this funding have not yet been released, however we understand that business may be eligible for a subsidy of up to 50% of an apprentice’s wage (capped at $7k per quarter) up to September 2020. Once further information is available this will be provided to pertinent host employers.