The Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) has backed the Australian Government’s move to expand the worker pool to be exempt from isolation rules, saying it will help unlock supply chains.
Thousands of workers will get the green light to return to work if they are a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case covering those in transport and freight, not just food distribution.
The national cabinet decision announced yesterday by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (13 January) includes non-public facing healthcare and support workers, emergency services, teachers and childcare workers and energy and waste management workers.
Limits on student work hours scrapped
International students are also permitted to work more hours to support labour shortages. The 40-hour per fortnight work limit on students has been scrapped meaning they won’t have restrictions on the hours they work. It’s suggested the work hours allowed to be performed by students could be doubled to 80 hours per fortnight.
Innes Willox Chief Executive of the national employer association Ai Group said the easing of restrictions was a big win for the supply chain, consumers and businesses.
“Getting supply chains moving will help alleviate shortages faced by consumers and the stresses on many businesses facing labour and staffing issues,” Ms Willox said.
“The decision to include all transport, freight and logistics workers including service stations among the sectors able to return to work following a negative test after a close contact is welcome recognition of the interconnectedness of our supply chains and the importance of keeping goods moving across the country in order to secure supply to Australia’s households and businesses.”
The government claimed 1 in 10 workers could be off work due to COVID. A truck driver shortage is affecting the supply of goods and services, notably groceries and fuel supplies.
Large numbers of workers have put their jobs on pause due to either contracting COVID-19 or coming into close contact with an infected person.
Australasian Convenience and Petroleum Marketers Association (ACAPMA) CEO Mark McKenzie said yesterday’s outcome would offer a reprieve for petrol station owners.
“The extension of visa hours would provide a major relief in a pressure point we currently have in our workforce,” Mr McKenzie told the ABC.
He said up to 12% of workers in the petrol retail industry were isolating because of COVID-19 — about half infected with coronavirus and half due to being close contacts.
Get the latest Australian Government COVID information, including links to the updates from each state and territory.