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Critically Essential Worker requirements

Overview

An employer in a critical industry can identify and create a list of critically essential roles. A close contact who performs a critically essential role is considered a critically essential worker.

Critically essential workers can then leave quarantine to carry out that role if they:

What employers need to do

Employers will determine if their organisation or business is a critical industry and identify which roles are critically essential and must be physically in the workplace to do their job. This is a self-assessment process however employers will be required to notify the Queensland Government of roles they have identified as being critically essential. Your self-assessment does not need to be approved or validated before asking a critical essential worker to return to the workplace.

Critical industries should do everything they can to delay work or deploy other staff if possible before recalling staff who are at home because they are close contacts. This do not apply to persons diagnosed with COVID-19 -  diagnosed persons cannot leave isolation. Where relevant, business should consult with workplace health and safety representatives and other stakeholders, including unions, about the arrangements being put in place. Consulting with relevant stakeholders in the workplace will help ensure staff are confident that appropriate mechanisms are in place to ensure workplaces remain as safe as possible.

Creating a Critical Worker List

Employers must:

  1. Identify as an industry on the critical industry list
  2. Create a Critical Worker List of critically essential roles. The list must include:
    • Business name and details
    • List of critical roles. This list can include contractors as long as they perform a critically essential role. You do not need to include names of individual staff (however, you should keep the list of individual staff and their role available if requested)
    • Rationale for why each role is considered critically essential.
  3. Submit the Critical Worker List to criticalworkerlodgement@dsdilgp.qld.gov.au

While you can submit the list in advance, you are not required to submit this information until you have identified that you need to ask close contact workers to leave quarantine to attend critically essential work. The critically essential worker can start work immediately. However, you must submit the list (or a revised version) within 3 days of the worker attending the workplace

Employers must keep a record of their Critical Worker List and produce it if requested by an emergency officer.

Review of the Critical Worker List

The critical worker list that employers create and hold is subject to review by the Director General or equivalent of a Queensland Government Department or Agency, or delegate. A Critical Worker List will be invalid if the employer incorrectly identifies their industry as a critical industry, or incorrectly assesses a role as a critically essential role. You may change and re-submit a revised list as needed.

What critical essential workers need to do

If you are close contact who is required to perform a critically essential role, as listed by your employer in a Critical Worker List, you can leave quarantine to carry out a critically essential work if you:

When leaving your place of quarantine to go to work, you must:

  • use a mask when indoors. Also wear a mask outdoors if you cannot physically distance from other people.
  • travel to and from your workplace by private transport, by the most direct route practicable and without stopping (except for refuelling and that should be contactless if possible)
  • monitor your symptoms
  • regularly clean your hands
  • get tested on day 6 of your quarantine period (and at any point of your quarantine if you develop COVID-19 symptoms)
  • practice physical distance from other people until the end of your  quarantine period
  • comply with any industry or employer requirements for workers in a critically essential role
  • return directly to quarantine when not at work.

Note: If your workplace is in a remote area, you can quarantine close to the remote workplace rather than return to your original place of quarantine and then return to that original place of quarantine when your shift ends.

Your child can only attend school or childcare if they are not a close contact. If they are identified as a close contact they cannot leave their quarantine to attend school or childcare, even if it is for the purposes of you being able leave to undertake critical essential work.

If you develop symptoms

If you develop COVID-19 symptoms, you must return to quarantine and not attend the workplace. Get tested and stay in quarantine until you receive a negative result and your symptoms resolve.

Critical industries and critically essential roles

Critical industry list

To ensure that critical workers can continue to support critical supply chains and work, the following industries have been designated critical industries:

The following are considered a critical industry in the context of critically essential workers:

  • Health
  • Emergency services, including police, the Queensland State Emergency Service, maritime rescue, the Coast Guard and the Rural Fire Service
  • Power and utilities
  • Stores in remote locations or communities
  • Essential retail (including supermarkets)
  • Freight and Logistics, including freight transported by air, rail, road or sea
  • Public Transport
  • Education – secondary, primary and kindergarten school teachers
  • Agriculture and Fisheries production
  • Resources
  • Major manufacturing, distribution and critical supply chains (food, pharmaceuticals and petrol).

Disability and Aged Care workers are considered within the Health Industry, as described in the Workers in a Healthcare Setting Public Health Direction. Businesses providing health care to people in the disability or aged care setting are eligible to submit their critical roles list to criticalworkerlodgement@dsdilgp.qld.gov.au.

Disability and Aged Care workers should also follow industry guidance including the Commonwealth Interim Guidance on Managing Workforce in Regards to COVID-19 in Aged Care.

This list is deliberately confined to a small number of critical industries. Reducing the number of close contacts allowed out of isolation to those performing critical roles inside critical industries helps reduce the likely spread of COVID-19. At this point in time, the list will not be expanded.

Employers can still request class or individual exemptions for their workers.

Critically essential role

A critically essential role is a role identified by an employer within a critical industry that:

  • requires a person with particular skills; and
  • must be performed in person at the workplace; and
  • must continue to be performed to:
    • prevent an immediate risk of death or serious injury to a person; or
    • prevent serious harm (social, economic or physical) in the community.

Businesses should consider whether work can be safely undertaken by other staff who are not close contacts or delayed before recalling close contacts.

Only those roles identified as being essential to these critical roles operating are able to leave quarantine for the purposes of attending work. Staffing levels in the workplaces should be kept as low as possible if close contacts are required to attend the workplace.

More information

If you have any additional questions after reading the above information, please email criticalworkerquery@dsdilgp.qld.gov.au

Questions and Answers about critically essential workers

Why have the rules changed?

The rapid increase in cases means more industries and sectors are being impacted, with flow-on effects for the community. Throughout the pandemic, Queensland has made provision for essential services or sectors to continue operating in as safe a manner as possible. These changes mean a list of critical industry businesses can self-assess against the criteria set out in the Direction.

A wider range of workers identified as close contacts will now be able to be considered critical and can attend work during quarantine without having to seek a separate exemption from Queensland Health, provided they are asymptomatic and fully vaccinated. When not at work, the close contacts must return directly to quarantine.

How will it work?

Employers will determine if their organisation or business falls under the list of critical industries and identify which roles are critical and must be physically in the workplace to do their job. This is a self-assessment process however employers will be required to notify the Queensland Government of roles they have identified as being in scope.

What is a critical industry?

To ensure that critical workers can continue to support critical supply chains and work a number of industries have been designated critical industries.

The following are considered a critical industry in the context of critically essential workers:

  • Health
  • Emergency services, including police, the Queensland State Emergency Service, maritime rescue, the Coast Guard and the Rural Fire Service
  • Power and utilities
  • Stores in remote locations or communities
  • Essential retail (including supermarkets)
  • Freight and Logistics, including freight transported by air, rail, road or sea
  • Public Transport
  • Education – secondary, primary and kindergarten school teachers
  • Agriculture and Fisheries production
  • Resources
  • Major manufacturing, distribution and critical supply chains (food, pharmaceuticals and petrol).

What should businesses consider before asking close contacts to return to work?

Critical industries should do everything they can to delay work or deploy other staff if possible before recalling staff who are at home because they are close contacts. Where relevant, business should consult with workplace health and safety representatives and other stakeholders, including unions, about the arrangements being put in place. Consulting with relevant stakeholders in the workplace will help ensure staff are confident that appropriate mechanisms are in place to ensure workplaces remain as safe as possible.

Are disability and aged care workers included?

Yes. Disability and Aged Care workers are considered within the Health Industry, as described in the Workers in a Healthcare Setting Public Health Direction. Businesses providing health care to people in the disability or aged care setting are eligible to submit their critical roles list to criticalworkerlodgement@dsdilgp.qld.gov.au.

Disability and Aged Care workers should also follow industry guidance including the Commonwealth Interim Guidance on Managing Workforce in Regards to COVID-19 in Aged Care.

If I am a close contact worker who is identified a critical essential worker can my child/children attend school or childcare so I can work.

Your child can only attend school or childcare if they are not a close contact. If they are identified as a close contact, they cannot attend school or childcare for the purposes of you being able leave to undertake critical essential work.

Why isn’t my industry included?

This list is confined to a small number of critical industries. Reducing the number of close contacts allowed out of isolation to those performing critical roles inside critical industries helps reduce the likely spread of Covid-19.

Who can I talk to about having it included?

The list of critical industries is deliberately small. At this point in time, the list will not be expanded.

What is a critically essential role?

A critically essential role is a role identified by an employer within a critical industry that:

  • requires a person with particular skills; and
  • must be performed in person at the workplace; and
  • must continue to be performed to:
    • prevent an immediate risk of death or serious injury to a person; or
    • prevent serious harm (social, economic or physical) in the community.

Businesses should consider whether work can be safely undertaken by other staff who are not close contacts or delayed before recalling close contacts.

Are contractors included?

Yes, if they are identified as performing a critical function inside a critical industry. It remains the business owner’s responsibility for determining critical roles, not the contractor’s.

Do I need government approval before implementing these changes?

No. Your self-assessment does not need to be approved or validated before asking a critical essential worker to return to the workplace.

Does that mean businesses can bring their entire workforce back?

No. Only those roles identified as being essential to these critical roles operating are able to leave quarantine for the purposes of attending work. Staffing levels in the workplaces should be kept as low as possible if close contacts are required to attend the workplace.

What do I need to include on the information I provide to government?

As well as the business names and details, you should provide a list of the critical roles identified and a rationale for why roles are included in your list. Names of individual staff do not need to be provided to government as part of the self-assessment notification. However, businesses must keep a list of individual close contact workers being recalled and provide it to government if asked.

Do I need to provide a list of individual names when I lodge my details?

No.

Can my plans be changed or revoked?

Yes. The critical worker role list that you create and hold is subject to review by the Director General or equivalent of a Queensland Government Department or Agency, or delegate, and is invalid if the employer has incorrectly identified itself a critical industry or incorrectly assessed the critically essential roles against the conditions.

Should I submit my plans to government in advance?

Eligible businesses may want to identify which roles are critical for continued business operation. However, you are not required to submit this information until you have identified that you need to ask close contact workers to leave quarantine to attend critical, essential work. This must be done so within 3 days of the critical worker needing to attend the workplace.

My close contact employees have not had a booster vaccination against COVID-19. Are they still considered to be fully vaccinated?

No. they must be fully vaccinated and have had the booster shot where eligible for this specific Direction.

My exempt close contact employee has begun to show COVID-19 symptoms. What steps do I need to take?

If an employee shows COVID-19 symptoms, they should return to quarantine and not attend the workplace. They should seek a RAT or PCR test and continue to quarantine. If the result is positive, they can follow the steps for persons that have COVID.

My industry is not currently listed as a critical industry or in the list of approved ANZSIC categories. Can I get exemption for my front-line workers?

Class or individual exemptions can still be sought from Queensland Health. However, this list is deliberately narrow to avoid potential spread of COVID-19.

What are the COVID-19 test requirements for close contacts versus positive cases?

The direction requires testing on day six as part of the existing close contact requirements. Diagnosed cases have different requirements pending their situation.

What is the difference between isolation and quarantine?

People who are COVID-19 positive must isolate for and people who are close contacts of positive cases (e.g.  potentially carrying the virus) must quarantine. The requirements to remain at home are mostly similar, but close contacts who have no COVID-19 symptoms may leave quarantine to undertake critically essential roles. Close contacts of a COVID-19 positive person may quarantine with them, for example if they normally share accommodation, but their quarantine period continues for as long as the isolation period of the COVID-19 positive person lasts, which may be longer if they are showing symptoms for longer.

What is the difference between an essential worker and a critically essential worker?

An essential worker is someone who provides essential services and who is unable to work from home. This includes but is not limited to doctors, nurses and other front-line medical staff, retail workers, haulage drivers and police officers.  Essential workers that are a close contact of a diagnosed person are not allowed to leave quarantine to carry out their work.

A critically essential worker is someone who performs a critically essential role in a critical industry. A critically essential worker is allowed to leave quarantine as a close contact, under certain conditions, to carry out a critically essential role.

Whether you are an essential worker or a critically essential worker, your children can attend school or childcare from the beginning of the 2022 term as long as they are not considered a close contact. See frequently asked questions about the 2022 start of term in Queensland.

If I must travel to and from work in a private vehicle without stopping, can I buy fuel?

You may stop for fuel only, and where possible make a contactless payment. Adhere to the current Public Health Directions regarding masks, hygiene and practise physical distancing as much as possible by remaining at least 1.5 metres from others.