Create a Plan
The current Novel Coronavirus pandemic has caused significant concerns for many of our Members. It is a good idea to create a plan to cope through the situation:
- We are encouraging members to stay up to date with any official Ministry of Health announcements and revisit their approach as required. Visit: https://www.health.govt.nz for recent updates on the virus; and
- Health line on 0800 358 5453 – this is a free service and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- At the Association we are working with a number of different government organisations to keep members in the loop as much as possible.
- Our legal team at the Association has put together a list of considerations below.
What you can do now:
- Unfortunately, the legal and practical issues associated with coronavirus and employment are not straightforward. Employers must try to find a balance between taking reasonable precautionary measures and being prepared for further developments. There are issues around payment entitlements for employees and types of leave, paid or unpaid.
- Consider introducing additional hygiene measures, such as providing hand sanitisers at all wash stations, counters, customer service areas and the entrances to your premises.
Remind staff and customers that no discrimination will be tolerated, and no one will be treated differently due to nationality and/or religion. Ensure employees are aware that any such behaviour will not be tolerated.
- Check with your insurer on business interruption clauses to see what you are covered for in the event of closure, or other effects from a virus pandemic.
- Reassure staff and provide information if they request it.
- Make sure that there is a clear point of contact for the employees, if there are any sudden developments due to the virus spreading.
- Employees have a right under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 to refuse work if they consider their workplace to be unsafe, so ensure that you do all that is reasonably within your control to create a safe workplace.
- Record any agreements made with employees in writing.
At this stage, employers must try to find a balance between taking balanced precautionary measures and being prepared for further developments. Employers should act in line with the overarching obligation of good faith when making decisions on how to deal with individual circumstances. Most employers will want to do the best by their employees and assist them where possible.
By Marisa Bidois – CEO Restaurant Association of New Zealand