Large Australian companies are taking the latest federal health advice on board and sending staff home to work remotely and I’m not mad at it. Please don’t cough on me.
Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly urged employers on Tuesday to support and encourage staff to work from home where possible to help stem the spread of COVID-19 as a third wave bears down on us.
“Employers should review their occupational health and safety risks and mitigations and their business continuity plans,” he said.
“They should consider the feasibility of some employees working from home, wearing masks in the workplace and support employees to take leave when sick.”
Westpac and Telstra are among the biggies to so far put new policies in place.
Telstra executive Alex Badenoch told Guardian Australia the company updated its rules on Wednesday in response to the advice.
“With the rise in COVID case numbers and changing health advice we have updated our people on how they can stay COVID safe,” she said.
“We are strongly encouraging our people to work from home if they can, wear a mask when they can’t socially distance and get their booster shot if they’re eligible.”
But Prime Minister Anthony Albanese hasn’t made the same plea to employers, nor have any working from home provisions been put in place for government workers.
Albanese said on Wednesday Australia needed a “balance” to also consider the interests of business. Hmm heard that before, haven’t we.
He also said there were two main factors why the National Cabinet decided at the weekend not to tell people to work from home or mandate masks — or anything else for that matter — as case numbers rose.
“One is mental health considerations … the imposition of controls on people’s behaviours has an impact on people’s health and particularly young people, we’re seeing a really problematic increase in incidents of severe consequences when it comes to young people’s health, but others as well,” Albanese said.
The other factor was compliance — the fact that people were already giving up mask-wearing on public transport meant there was no point mandating masks further.
Meanwhile, everyone’s getting sick, hospitalisations from COVID are skyrocketing and close to 100 Australians a day are dying from a preventable disease. But health and safety have become so politicised no governments want to tell us to do anything anymore.