EBMO Action # 4
Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI)
Australia’s healthcare system is one of the best in the world. The Australian government is responding strongly to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) global pandemic. Whenever a major health issue faces the country, state and territory governments work together with the key committee of the Australian government, the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, tasked to coordinate and make key decisions on such issues.
Amid the pandemic, Australia’s response is being guided by the Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19 Plan). The COVID-19 Plan is designed to support and help coordinate government health agencies. Many agencies (government and private), however, are working to support the health response and to ensure that Australians continue to have access to essential services, as they also have a major stake in managing this outbreak and can contribute significantly to reducing the impact of COVID-19. Hence, it is also important for employers to prepare and respond to the pandemic as it develops not only in Australia, but also globally.
The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) has set out an information booklet, the COVID-19 Employer Guide, to address key safety and employment issues, outlining the organization’s base position with additional questions that employers may come up with.
The Australian Chamber is Australia’s largest and most representative business network, with their membership being state and territory chambers of commerce, national industry associations, and a council of business leaders from individual enterprises. ACCI contributes to public discussion and government decision-making on issues that impact on business, including economics, trade, workplace relations, work health and safety and employment, and education and training.
The COVID-19 Employer Guide includes prescriptions for the business community on risks at the workplace, employer obligations, working from home, changing or scaling down operations, business shutdown, and possible issues on discrimination and privacy.
To highlight one of its salient features, on working from home, ACCI notes that depending on location and the spread of COVID-19, businesses may need to ask their employees to work from home, or employees may ask to work from home. However, ACCI also acknowledges that not every position and every activity can be conducted from an employee’s home. ACCI also reminds employers that regardless of where employees work, employers are still responsible for their physical health and safety while at work, as well as their mental wellbeing. The full text of the COVID-19 Employer Guide can be accessed through this link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1uum1VUaib_ucHmStXNPvtXKetRyNXqk3/view?usp=sharing
Similar to ECOP, the Australian Chamber speaks on behalf of Australian business in international forums, including International Organisation of Employers (IOE), Confederation of Asia-Pacific Employers (CAPE), and the International Labour Organisation (ILO).