The Queensland Small Business Commissioner has provided the following update to assist small business with the Non-essential leisure activity public health directionn:
Things are set to change for a lot of businesses as of 5am on 17 December 2021. I’ve seen lots of information bulletins, web links, and newsletters issued by different government agencies, industry groups, and media outlets seeking to signpost and explain the changes ahead. As the Small Business Commissioner, I don’t make the rules but it is my job to help Queensland businesses to find the rules, to understand the rules, and to apply the rules to their situation.
1. Finding the rules
For the vaccine requirements for staff and customers of non-essential leisure activities (in effect from 5am on 17 December 2021) the Public Health Direction has been published in advance here.
Important things to note: the vaccination mandate extends to both staff and visitors of non-essential leisure activities. Staff includes any kind of employees over the age of 16 years (regardless of part time, full time, casual or voluntary status). It also includes contractors and those attending the business to provide a service such as musicians and entertainers. Visitors includes customers, clients, anyone coming physically onto the business premises (and if a home business – coming into the business area of the home).
If you are looking for other public health directions, there is a comprehensive list of all public health directions across Australia here on the Fair Work Ombudsman’s website. This is particularly useful for anyone conducting business activities in multiple states.
It is worth mentioning there are separate vaccine requirements for Workers in a healthcare setting (from 15 December 2021), and for Workers in a high-risk setting (from 17 December 2021), which includes workers in schools, kindergartens and childcare. However, in this post I will only address the vaccination requirements for non-essential leisure activities.
2. Understanding the rules
To find out if your business is able to serve unvaccinated people (or not) from 17 December, start with this list. .
It is important not to make assumptions and actually check the list, because what is included in the public health direction as ‘non-essential leisure activities’ is different to what has been previously considered ‘essential’ or ‘non-essential’ activity during past lock downs. For example, hairdressers, beauty services and gyms have previously been considered ‘non-essential’ and required to close. Whereas the vaccination requirements in this public health direction do not apply to any of those such activities, and they can continue to serve unvaccinated customers and have unvaccinated staff if they wish.
Also, be aware that the Queensland approach is different to other states like NSW and Victoria – so information you see in the media may not apply to Queensland.
3. Applying the rules to your business
A good place to start is the free, online training course by TAFE Queensland here. It comprises two modules, and it takes roughly 30-45 minutes to complete both. You might wish to encourage your staff to also do this course. The first module steps through the basics about the rules. The second module helps to think about managing upset customers, presenting alternative options to customers, and what to do about those who refuse to provide any evidence of vaccination status.
The next step to do is download and print the Queensland Government’s signage. There are options depending on whether proof of vaccination is required or not required at your business premises. If you are a member of an industry association, you may have been given custom signage to use – pick whichever you prefer (or both). Displaying this signage at the entrance of your business will help to guide visitors as to whether they need to be vaccinated or not, for service. Hopefully it might also minimise confusion and confrontations.
A great place to find answers to your questions about different scenarios, are the frequently asked questions on the Queensland Health website.
My team has fielded many questions from small business owners seeking to prepare for the changes ahead. Over time we have built up a comprehensive collection of all the go-to websites, materials and info. We have published that list in case it might help you.
For employers, here is an optional template to help record the vaccination status of staff over the age of 16. It is generally considered good privacy practice to avoid keeping copies of the actual vaccination certificates; instead you can simply record that you have sighted the proof of vaccination. Please note, this is an optional template, you can record this information in whatever format you wish.
Queensland Small Business Commissioner Hotline: 1300 312 344