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Seasonal Workers

Seasonal Workers International Quarantine Plans and Checklist Direction

Overview

To ensure a seasonal workforce for Queensland’s harvest this year, the Queensland Government is putting measures in place to reduce transmission of COVID-19 amongst employees, seasonal workers and the local community.

Businesses who employ or house seasonal workers must have a COVID Safe Checklist in place and be operating in accordance with this checklist. This includes agribusinesses, commercial fisheries, and labour hire firms and accommodation facilities that house seasonal workers. The COVID Safe Checklist requirements do not apply to an on-farm facility, a regional facility, transport operator or a PLS/SWP worker during their quarantine period.

A COVID Safe Checklist demonstrates compliance with the Public Health Directions and outlines ways the business is minimising risks of COVID-19 transmission.

All seasonal workers arriving from overseas will need to complete an International Arrivals registration on arrival which will declare their personal details, identification and travel details. They must also commence their quarantine.

What this means for seasonal workers

  • Workers who have not been in areas currently declared by Queensland as hotspots in the last 14 days are able to come to Queensland to work in agribusiness and commercial fishing, but you must comply with specific public health directions.
  • Seasonal workers who have been to a COVID-19 hotspot in the last 14 days are generally not able to enter Queensland under the Border Restrictions Direction.
  • Before entering Queensland from another State or Territory, you will need to complete a border pass or travel declaration which will include details of where you have travelled/lived for the last 14 days, and written confirmation of where you will be working and staying.
  • PLS/SWP workers arriving from overseas will need to complete an International Arrivals Registration which will include, details of where you have travelled/lived for the last 14 days, and written confirmation of where you will be working and staying
  • Seasonal workers from overseas will need to follow an endorsed international quarantine plan (IQP) and quarantine at an on-farm facility, regional facility or in hotel quarantine for 14 days. Workers can leave the facility to attend work but must maintain their quarantine in accordance with the IQP.

What this means for businesses who employ seasonal workers

  • You can employ seasonal workers, including backpackers, to meet harvesting demand during COVID-19.
  • You must have a COVID Safe Checklist Seasonal Worker Business in place and comply with the requirements in the checklist for the ongoing management and housing of seasonal workers.
  • You must comply with occupant density rules for indoor spaces as far as is reasonably practicable and public health controls.
  • Collect contact information of staff members, visitors and contractors at the time of entry by using the Check In Qld app.
  • If you hire seasonal workers who are currently based in other Australian states or territories that are not a current Queensland-declared hotspot, you must provide them with written confirmation of their job to allow them to cross the border.
  • Seasonal workers may also need help with securing suitable accommodation prior to entering Queensland.

What this means for approved businesses who employ workers under the Australian Government Pacific Labour Scheme or Seasonal Worker Programme (PLS/SWP)

  • You must have an endorsed international PLS/SWP quarantine plan that is endorsed by Queensland Health prior to the arrival of a PLS/SWP worker and complies with the Guidelines for ‘on farm’ or ‘regional facility’ quarantine of PLS and SWP workers in Queensland.
  • You must comply with the endorsed international PLS/SWP quarantine plan for the duration of the quarantine period
  • You must provide this plan to each accommodation facility or transport operator that accommodates or transports PLS/SWP workers
  • Transport operators must be endorsed by a government authority and have must have a transport plan (DOCX).
  • Provide a copy of the endorsed plan to an emergency public health officer when requested.
  • Businesses who employ PLS/SWP workers do not need to follow the COVID Safe Checklist requirement, but only during their quarantine period. Once they finish quarantine, the COVID Safe Checklist must be followed. However while in quarantine, they must comply with the requirements in the International Quarantine Plan.
  • You must have in place and comply with surveillance testing requirements.

For more information

For full details read the Seasonal Workers International Quarantine Plans and Checklist Direction

Questions about density

What is outdoors?

An outdoor area has fixed or temporary boundaries but is not fully enclosed. It is open to the elements and has natural air flow. To reduce the risk of COVID-19, there should be as much natural and unrestricted air movement as possible for most of the time the area is in use.

An outdoor area can include a veranda, balcony, deck, patio or similar structure that might be connected to an external wall of a building and have a roof, awning or eave. It might also include a rotunda, tarpaulin or shade structure situated in a larger open space.

An outdoor area does not include atriums that are internal to a building. A temporary or permanent marquee is not considered an outdoor area except in the circumstances where walls/panels are lifted for the duration of the event. A tent, like a circus tent or performance tent, is not considered an outdoor area.

When curtain walls, panel walls or other fittings are used to fully enclose an area to protect from the elements, it should be considered as indoor. Sometimes Queensland weather means that curtain walls, panel walls or other fittings are used for short periods to partially enclose an area for patron comfort and safety. If a business is in doubt, it should operate as if it is an indoor space.

My business has indoor and outdoor areas, what rules do I need to follow?

You must follow the requirements for indoors and outdoors in the different areas. Patrons must check in for both the indoor and outdoor sections of your business.

Indoor areas can have 1 person per 2 square metres so far as is reasonably practicable. Outdoor areas can have an unlimited number of people.

How many people (occupant density) can be in a venue at any one time?

Seasonal worker businesses can have 1 person per 2 square metres indoors, so far as is reasonable practicable, for areas open to or used by guests or staff. The 1 person per 2 square metre rule does not apply to sleeping areas.

What are the occupant density rules for accommodation facilities ?

Accommodation facilities that only house seasonal workers can have 1 person per 2 square metres indoors, so far as is reasonably practicable, in communal areas. Accommodation facilities have no occupant density rules for sleeping areas. However, hostels, bed and breakfasts, backpackers, boarding houses, short term rentals and short-term accommodation that house seasonal workers and other guests at the same time must follow the occupant density requirements in the Restrictions on Businesses, Activities and Undertakings Direction or Impacted Areas Direction. Guests should continue to practice physical distancing by staying 1.5 metres away from others. Remember, if you have any COVID-19 symptoms, no matter how mild, get tested, stay home and isolate until you get the results and your symptoms resolve.

Questions about contact information requirements and Check In Qld App

When do businesses need to collect contact details?

From 3 September 2021, seasonal worker businesses must make all reasonable efforts to collect contact information using the Check In Qld App about all people who enter the premises (including staff), unless an exception applies.

Businesses do not need to request information from:

  • a person entering in an emergency to provide emergency services
  • a child under the age of 16 years who is not accompanied by a responsible adult.

Contact information does not need to be collected if it presents a risk to someone’s safety, for example, a risk of violence to staff or other patrons.

What if someone cannot use the Check In Qld app or does not have a smartphone? / What if someone has trouble checking in?

If someone is having trouble with the QR code, ask them to enter the 6 digit number on your QR code poster.

If staff members, visitors or contractors do not have access to or cannot use the Check In Qld app, businesses can enter customer contact details via the business profile mode of the Check In Qld app to check them in.

What if someone doesn’t want to use the Check In Qld app?

It is the staff member’s, visitor’s or contractor’s responsibility to ensure they have checked in.
Seasonal worker businesses must register their business for the app and ensure the code is easily available for customers to check in.

Seasonal worker businesses must make all reasonable efforts to clearly display the Check In Qld app QR code at each entry that is used by staff members, visitors and contractors.

What is the Check In Qld app?

The Check In Qld app is a contactless, free, secure and convenient way for people to sign into Queensland businesses. The app helps protect the community by assisting with faster contact tracing. Find out more about the Check In Qld app.

Why is the Check In Qld app important?

The use of the Check in Qld app is being expanded to help Queenslanders and Queensland businesses stay COVID Safe. In the event of a community outbreak, the app allows contact tracers to rapidly identify close contacts, track and trace faster, and minimise any further risk to the community and impact on business.

It will make it easier for businesses to meet the requirements for the collection of customer contact details and is easy for customers to use. The check-in automatically captures a person’s contact details, and the date, time and location.

What if I can't collect contact details using the Check In Qld app due to an internet outage or other unexpected circumstances?

If you can’t collect contact information using the Check In Qld app due to unexpected issues with your internet service, because your business is located in a place that does not have mobile internet data connection, or because someone is unable to use the electronic system (for example, because of age, disability or language barriers), you must collect this information using another method such as a paper-based form.

For each visitor, this information must include:

  • name
  • phone number
  • email address (residential address if unavailable)
  • date and time period of the visit.

You must also use best endeavours to transfer this information to an electronic system within 24 hours and comply with the requirements for collection and storage. If asked, this information must be provided to a public health officer within the stated time.

I already have an electronic system in place to collect records. Do I have to change my system?

Yes. If you operate a seasonal worker business, from 3 September 2021, you must now use the Check In Qld app.

Where do I need to put the QR code poster?

Your staff members, visitors and contractors are required to check in when they enter your business. You must display your Check In Qld app QR code at all entries used by staff members, visitors and contractors.

How can I tell if someone has checked in?

Staff members, visitors and contractors can display the successful check in screen to you on entry to your venue. You can approach them and ask to see their check in history in the app to verify that their check in was successful.

Do my staff have to check in everyday on the app?

Yes, your staff should check in everyday through the Check In Qld app. This will help ensure that they are included and quickly contacted if any contact tracing takes place.

What happens if I don’t have a smartphone or can’t provide my information electronically?

Tell the seasonal worker business staff immediately if you do not have access to the Check In Qld app. They can record your details using the business profile of the Check In Qld app.

Why do I have to provide my details?

You must provide your current contact details to the venue you are visiting so public health officials can contact you in the event of an outbreak of COVID-19 in Queensland. If you provide false or misleading information, officials will not be able to contact you and the health of all Queenslanders will be at risk.

Do staff have to check in again after having a break?

Staff do not have to check in using the Check In Qld app when they go on break if they don’t leave the work premises. If staff do go offsite they will be required to check in again when they return.

Questions about COVID Safe Checklists

Where can I get a COVID Safe Checklist?

You can download a COVID Safe Checklist specific to seasonal worker businesses:

Questions about testing

What are surveillance testing requirements?

Surveillance testing requirements will apply to transport workers and staff at on-farm and regional facilities that provide a quarantine service. Surveillance testing is regular COVID-19 testing required for some high-risk workplaces, such as people who provide services or do work of any kind that requires them to be physically present in the quarantine area at on-farm or regional facilities. Anyone who transports people who have been overseas in the last 14 days to or from on-farm or regional facilities must undertake surveillance testing.

According to the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) there are benefits in testing asymptomatic people who work in environments that have a high risk of COVID-19 transmission. This includes people who provide quarantine services at on-farm facilities or regional facilities or transport services for PLS/SWP workers.

Large-scale testing of asymptomatic people in areas that are not high risk is not supported.

How often do I have to get tested?/Who has to be tested?

The following workers must follow the testing requirements for COVID-19:

On-farm or regional facility workers

  • On-farm or regional facility workers who have started the vaccination process must:
    • have a throat and deep nasal swab test and be screened for COVID-19 with a saliva test within 7 days after their first shift
    • have a saliva test each shift
    • provide evidence of starting the vaccination process when asked by an emergency officer.
  • On-farm or regional facility workers who have not started the vaccination must have a:
    • throat and deep nasal swab test and be screened for COVID-19 with a saliva test within 7 days after their first shift
    • throat and deep nasal swab test on a rolling 7 day testing cycle
    • saliva test each shift.
  • Both vaccinated and non-vaccinated on-farm or regional facility workers must have a throat and deep nasal swab test if they will be away for 7 days or more. They must be tested at least every 7 days until 14 days have passed since their last shift.

You must continue this surveillance testing until you stop working at the premises or it no longer provides quarantine accommodation.

Maintenance and repairs contractors or medical practitioners

  • Maintenance and  repairs contractors or medical practitioners who have to enter an on-farm  facility or regional facility must comply with the testing requirements  outlined above if told to do so by an emergency officer.

Transport operators

  • Transport  operators who have started the vaccination process who service a domestic  charter bus, coach or flight with PLS/SWP workers during their quarantine  period must have a:
  • throat and deep nasal swab test and be screened for COVID-19 with a saliva test within 7 days of transporting PLS/SWP workers.
  • Transport operators who have not started the vaccination process must have a:
    • throat and deep nasal swab test and be screened for COVID-19 with a saliva test within 7 days of transporting PLS/SWP workers
    • throat and deep nasal swab test on a rolling 7 day testing cycle until 14 days have passed since they transported PLS/SWP workers

If you develop COVID-19 symptoms or have been directed to isolate by an Emergency Officer, you must :

  • seek medical attention immediately
  • get tested for COVID-19
  • isolate until you receive a negative test result and have no symptoms.

You can get medical attention by calling:

  • your usual doctor, who will advise you of next steps
  • 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84)
  • Triple zero (000) in the case of an emergency

Do I have to wait to be tested if I develop symptoms?

No. If you experience symptoms, no matter how mild, between your regular tests you must get tested immediately and isolate. You cannot attend your workplace until you receive a negative result and no longer have symptoms.

Do I have to get tested if I have not provided quarantine services in the last 14 days?

People providing quarantine services at on-farm or regional facilities do not have to get a throat and deep nasal COVID-19 test or saliva test if they have not provided quarantine services in the last 14 days.

What is an on-farm facility or regional facility ?

An on-farm facility or regional facility means a facility that accommodates quarantined persons operating under an endorsed international PLS/SWP quarantine plan.

Who is an on-farm or regional facility worker?

An on-farm or regional facility worker is any individual, including an employee, volunteer or contractor that performs a quarantine service in the quarantine area at an on-farm facility or regional facility.

Quarantine services include:

  • Health – for example providing medical care to or  taking a swab for COVID-19 testing from a quarantined person
  • Security – for example monitoring and directing  the movement of a quarantined person within the nominated premises
  • Cleaning – for example cleaning a guest room at  which a quarantined person is residing or has resided
  • Food preparation – for example kitchen staff  preparing food for a quarantined person
  • Any other services identified in the endorsed  international PLS/SWP quarantine plan or other requirements approved by the  Chief Health Officer.

What is a seasonal worker business?

A seasonal worker business is:

  • an agribusiness  that employs seasonal workers or PLS/SWP workers
  • a commercial  fisheries business that employs seasonal workers or PLS/SWP workers
  • a labour hire  firm that employs seasonal workers or PLS/SWP workers
  • an accommodation  facility that houses or is available to house seasonal workers or PLS/SWP  workers, that are not quarantining.

I thought you could only be tested if you had symptoms?

According to the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) there are benefits in testing asymptomatic people who work in environments that have a high risk of COVID-19 transmission. This includes people who provide a service or do work of any kind at for quarantined persons including at on-farm and regional facilities

Large-scale testing of asymptomatic people in areas that are not high risk is not supported.

Why is our on-farm and regional facility worker testing protocol different to other states?

Other states and territories have different considerations and are at different stages of their COVID-19 response. It was agreed at National Cabinet that the states and territories are responsible for implementing their own restrictions.

Where can I get tested?

Your employer will inform you of the time, date and location of testing at your workplace.

What should I do if I miss my routine test?

If you were unable to have a saliva test for a shift because testing wasn’t available before, during or after your shift, you must let your employer know and arrange a make-up test.

If you have not started the vaccination process and you are unable to attend testing times for your throat and deep nasal swab that are available onsite, you can visit a fever clinic.

When you’re are attending a Queensland Health COVID-19 testing facility, you should identify yourself as a quarantine facility worker. This will allow you to be tested, even if asymptomatic, and you will be prioritised for testing.

If you have not started the vaccination process you must not go back to work at the on-farm or regional facility until you have completed your 7 day throat and deep nasal swab test.

How will I receive my results? How long will it take?

Results are usually available within a couple of days after the test was taken.

If the result is positive, you will receive a call from a public health doctor or nurse who will tell you what to do next.

If the result of your throat and deep nasal swab is negative, you will be contacted by public health clinical support staff, this may be by phone or by SMS.

You will not be notified of the results of your saliva test, unless it is positive.

Can I still go to work while waiting for my test results?

If you are not experiencing any symptoms you can keep working while you wait for your test results. You do not have to isolate at home.

If you have any COVID-19 symptoms, no matter how mild, you must isolate until you have received a negative test and have no symptoms.

What happens if I test positive?

If your test is positive, it is important that you isolate from others. If your clinical condition is such that you require hospital care, you will be transferred for isolation in hospital and further care.

If you live with others, they must quarantine.

Find out more on what happens if you test positive to COVID-19.

If I have to quarantine while I wait for my results, will I still be paid?

You should speak to your employer as they will be able to advise on their human resource policies regarding payment when quarantining.

Will the people I live with have to quarantine/get tested too?

No. People you live with will only have to get tested if they develop COVID-19 symptoms or come into contact with someone who has tested positive.

Does the amount of contact I have had with people who are quarantining (or things they have touched) matter?

No. On-farm or regional facility workers or transport workers who provide a service or do work of any kind, must comply with on-farm and regional facility worker testing requirements.

Can I visit a hospital, residential aged care facility or disability accommodation service if I am waiting for the result of my test?

If you are still waiting for your routine test results and you do not have any COVID-19 symptoms you can visit a hospital, residential aged care facility or disability accommodation service. You must follow all instructions outlined in the Aged Care DirectionDisability Accommodation Services Direction and Hospital Visitors Direction.

Why is mandatory testing important now?

We have seen an increase in the number of community acquired COVID-19 cases in Australia and globally the number of COVID-19 cases has also increased. As a result, there has been an increase in the number of returning travellers testing positive to COVID-19..

Testing of workers who are at a higher risk of coming into contact with someone with COVID-19 will increase the safety of staff, their families and the community.

This measure is a recommendation of the Australian Health Principal Protection Committee (AHPPC) and delivers another layer of protection on top of the excellent infection control measures Queensland has already.

Who do I speak to if I have more questions?

Please speak to your employer who can direct you to further resources and discuss the requirements of surveillance testing.

How will I be notified of testing requirements?

Your employer will use their own communications methods to notify you of testing requirements.

What happens if I refuse to be tested? Will I be fired if I refuse to have a test?

You cannot return to work at an on-farm or regional facility if you don’t get tested every 7 days with a throat and deep nasal swab (if you have not started the vaccination process) and if you don’t have a saliva test as soon as available at your next shift. If you do return to work without getting tested, you may be given an on-the-spot fine of $1,378, a court-imposed penalty of up to $13,785 or 6 months' imprisonment.

If you do not wish to be tested, you should speak to your employer about alternate work arrangements.

Questions about saliva testing

What is saliva testing and how does the saliva test work?

Saliva testing is a test that uses the saliva from your mouth to test for COVID-19.

The test is painless and simple. It may be collected by a healthcare worker or you may be asked to collect it yourself under supervision from a healthcare worker.

Saliva testing is only able to detect the presence of COVID-19 in the saliva, a positive test may mean you either have COVID-19 or it may show evidence of a previous COVID-19 infection. The test is not able to detect other respiratory viruses, or drug substances, or whether you are pregnant.

The test can be conducted daily without any side effects.

Does the saliva test detect anything other than COVID-19 (alcohol, other medications, recreational drugs, pregnancy)?

No. Saliva testing only tests for COVID-19. The test is not able to detect other respiratory viruses, or drug substances.

How accurate is saliva testing?

The throat and deep nasal swab remain the best test for anyone with symptoms because it is more accurate. At this time, the saliva test is only used as a screening test for some people without symptoms who will need frequent testing (people who are asymptomatic).

If you develop any symptoms of COVID-19, you should not go to work and get a COVID swab test from a fever clinic or through your local doctor.

If I have a saliva test and develop symptoms later in the day or the next day, what should I do?

If you experience symptoms, no matter how mild, between your regular tests you must get tested immediately and isolate. You cannot attend your workplace until you receive a negative result and no longer have symptoms.

Does saliva testing hurt?

No. The saliva testing is painless, not invasive and takes about one minute.

What are the risks with frequent saliva testing? Will my mouth get sore? Are the chemicals safe to have every day?

There are no risks associated with frequent testing.

What happens if I test positive from a saliva test?

If you test positive to COVID-19 from a saliva test, you will have to isolate immediately.

You will have to have a throat and deep nasal swab test to confirm the result of the saliva test. The throat and deep nasal swab remain the best test for anyone with symptoms because it is more accurate. At this time, the saliva test is only used as a screening test for some people without symptoms who need frequent testing (people who are asymptomatic).

A Queensland Health representative will contact you and will tell you what to do if this happens.

Questions about the vaccine

What does it mean to have started the vaccination process?

To have started the vaccination process means you must:

  • have received one dose of COVID-19 vaccine; and
  • receive a second dose of the vaccine when required; and
  • have notified the on-farm or regional facility of your vaccination.

Can I continue to work if I haven’t received my first dose? / Can I continue to work if I have received my first dose but haven’t had my second dose in the appropriate time?

You may continue to work at an on-farm or regional facility if you have not started the vaccination process, but you will have to be tested for COVID-19 more regularly.

I need to provide evidence I have been vaccinated, how can I do this?

You can use your immunisation history statement as evidence. This is available from the Australian Government through:

For more information see the Australian Government website.

Questions about enforcement

Are there penalties if I don’t comply?

Yes. If you don’t comply you may be given an on-the-spot fine of $1,378 for individuals and $6,892 for corporations, a court-imposed penalty of up to $13,785 or 6 months' imprisonment.

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