By Growcom CEO David Thomson
Last week the Queensland Premier and Agriculture Minister Mark Furner announced new obligations on seasonal workers and their employers to control the spread of coronavirus into and within Queensland.
Over the weekend further details of each new obligation were revealed, scheduled to come into effect at 12.01am Tuesday, May 5.
The new obligations are expected to apply to much of the horticulture industry.
Seasonal workers are considered to be temporary visa holders from overseas, but also any Australian seeking seasonal work while not maintaining a permanent residence.
Workers are now not allowed to move within Queensland without first confirming employment and accommodation. When moving to a new area, workers are now required to keep a record of their work and residence for the past 14 days.
Workers are still able to enter Queensland from interstate, so long as they satisfy conditions including proof of employment, accommodation, and a record of their past work and residence for 14 days.
For employers there are a few significant new requirements.
Firstly, any business employing any one person defined as a seasonal worker must develop a health management plan and submit it to government.
Employers must also request and keep a record of their employees’ work history and accommodation details for the 14 days before starting work.
Employers are now required to check daily with their workers for any coronavirus symptoms, and keep a record of these checks.
For some these new obligations will appear too tough. For others, they don’t go far enough.
At Growcom we believe the balance struck by the Queensland government is about right. A recent cluster of positive cases at a Victorian abattoir is an important reminder of how easily we can lose our handle on coronavirus.
Our view has been from the very start that developing a health management plan is an important piece of good business practice and we encourage all growers to have one in place regardless of whether they employ seasonal workers or not. Growers with a plan already in place are advised to review it against the latest template and information.
Growcom will work closely with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries to ensure these obligations are understood and implemented in horticulture.
As an industry we have an excellent record of responding to new health, wellbeing and food safety requirements wherever we’ve been convinced of their necessity.
More information for businesses on these new seasonal worker obligations can be found at: https://www.business.qld.gov.au/industries/farms-fishing-forestry/agriculture/coronavirus-support/seasonal-workers-covid19/