ACRS sincerely hopes that you are all doing ok physically and mentally with this unfortunate lockdown situation.

The NSW Government today confirmed construction will reopen from 31 st July under increased restrictions, while the broader lockdown will continue until 28 th August.

Infrastructure NSW issued the below guidance for the reopening of construction. Please read and follow it in full and ensure your employees are aware of what they need to do. It is essential we all follow this so we can reopen safely and stay working.

We know you will have questions and NECA will provide further updates throughout the next few days. The Federal Government will announce further support for affected workers and businesses. NECA will share a separate update on this.

Identified LGAs

The NSW Government announced the following as LGAs will be under additional restrictions to the rest of Greater Sydney:

  • Blacktown
  • Campbelltown
  • Canterbury-Bankstown
  • Cumberland
  • Fairfield
  • Georges River
  • Liverpool
  • Parramatta

Please see below details for how restrictions impact reopening of construction.

Guidance from Infrastructure NSW

The below Information includes updates for:

  • construction sites
  • work at occupied places of residences
  • the construction supply chain.

Construction sites

  • From 31 July, work can recommence on construction sites, subject to the site completing a COVID-19 Safety Plan for each site in Greater Sydney.
  • Note that construction sites in the identified LGAs with additional restrictions will remain closed. Construction workers who reside in these LGAs may not leave their local area for work.
  • The COVID-19 Safety Plan will be available to access later today here but for reference, the required measures are included at Appendix A . You must address how each requirement will be met on each site, recognising that there may be some common practices across sites.
  • Plans must be completed before works can recommence on Saturday 31 July (or whenever construction recommences) and a printed copy of your plan must be available for inspection on site.
  • An updated Public Health Order will also enable preparatory works to be conducted on-site from Thursday 29 July. These are outlined at Appendix B . Your COVID-19 Safety Plan is not required for these works.
  • Urgent works on construction sites can also continue to be undertaken until 31 July. This also applies after 31 July in the identified LGAs.

Residential premises

  • Work at occupied residential premises will be permitted from 31 July providing there is no contact between workers and occupiers.
  • There will be a limit of up to 2 workers for indoor services and 5 workers for outdoor services, and works will only be possible where it is feasible for residents to vacate the area of works. This will require real physical separation between workers and residents.
  • Works are not permitted within the identified LGAs, and workers from those LGAs are not permitted to leave their local area to provide services.
  • Urgent works can continue to be undertaken until 31 July. This also applies after 31 July in the identified LGAs.

Supply chain businesses

  • Businesses which are critical to the construction supply chain will be permitted to continue operations if they are located within an identified LGA.
  • Workers for the construction supply chain will be added to the authorised worker list. This includes workers engaged in manufacturing of construction materials, plant and components.
  • This means that if they live in an identified LGA, they may leave home to attend work. Please note that COVID-19 testing requirements may apply.
  • General construction workers are not authorised workers.

Click here to view Appendix A and Appendix B

As previously communicated, employees affected by the current restrictions are likely to be eligible for the government’s COVID 19 Disaster Payment. NECA recommends members instruct their employees to access this Payment.

The NSW Government today announced additional financial support for businesses impacted by the Greater Sydney lockdown, which was today extended until 28 th August.

  • JobSaver payments will now be available to businesses with an annual turnover of between $75,000 and $250 million, up from $50 million, which have experienced a revenue decline of 30 per cent or more.
  • The maximum weekly payment has also been substantially increased, with employing businesses that maintain their employee headcount now able to receive between $1,500 and $100,000 per week, up from $10,000, with payments based on 40 per cent of their weekly NSW payroll.

For more information on COVID-19 support available, visit NSW Government Support Package .

Support for individuals impacted by the current COVID-19 restrictions and stay-at home orders is also available through Services Australia. For more information visit Services Australia COVID 19 .

See full media release here .

Can my employee take Annual Leave at the same time as receiving the COVID-19 Disaster Payment?

Services Australia has confirmed that the taking of paid annual leave is considered ‘earning an income’ when determining one’s eligibility for the COVID-19 Disaster Payment. However, this does not prevent an employee from accessing any part of the payment. Rather, dependant on the amount of paid leave taken, it may impact an employee’s ongoing eligibility to continue to receive the payment.

See below a few examples concerning the COVID-19 Disaster Payment:

  • A full-time employee who is currently stood down (lost 38 hours of work) may still receive up to 18 hours of annual leave or long service leave before it might affect their $600 payment. This is because the employee would still be deemed under the eligibility rules to have lost 20 hours or more of work as a result of COVID-19 restrictions on movement with the remaining 18 hours of annual leave considered to be the employee earning their usual income under the eligibility rules. If the employee had however been paid 19 hours of annual leave then in the following relevant period they may no longer be eligible for the $600 COVID-19 Disaster Payment (instead only eligible for the $375 payment) as the 19 hours of annual leave would be considered under the eligibility rules to be the earning of an income.
  • A full-time employee who is currently working on reduced hours, working three days a week (22 hours) would be eligible under the COVID-19 Disaster Payment in Sydney to currently receive $375 because they have lost between 8 and less than 20 hours of work per week in lost income. This employee could still receive 8 hours of annual leave by way of a top up. Service Australia would consider the employee to have lost 8 hours of their usual income made up of 22 hours of work and 8 hours of annual leave, leaving 8 hour of reduced earnings making them still eligible for the COVID-19 Disaster Payment, having lost between 8 and less than 20 hours of work per week.

It is also important to note that the cashing out of annual leave (or any other accrued entitlement) is not considered earning an income for the purposes of the Disaster Payment. Accordingly, this does not have the same impact on an employee’s eligibility as the above.

If you have any questions about the above information or any COVID-19-related restrictions on work, contact NECA Legal today on 1300 361 099.

Please see more on the relevant government website here or download a guide to accessing the Payment.