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The frontline of the fight - Helping you manage the workplace complexities caused by COVID-19

17 Apr 15:00 by the Medical Recruitment team

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We hope that you and your people are continuing to remain safe throughout these unprecedented times. While the economic impact of COVID-19 is causing concerns of reduced business for some, as the frontline of the fight against the virus, the healthcare industry is experiencing an exponential increase in demand. Not only that, but maintaining our own health against contagion will be pivotal to the ongoing containment of the virus in Australia.

One thing is for certain in amongst all this uncertainty, COVID-19 is having a very different impact on different businesses and people, even within the same industries.

We’ve been assisting healthcare practices manage their workforce and seen practices that need to rapidly expand to deliver new services and meet increased demand, and others that have experienced a significant reduction in clients and therefore turnover.

The number 1 question employers are asking at this time is ‘what are my options for managing my workforce through COVID-19?’.

So we asked A Human Agency, a HR consultancy, who are experienced in supporting practices and clinics in the medical industry. This is what Katriina Tahka, A-HA CEO, and an experienced workplace relations specialist advised:

“Up until last week, the 3 main options were reaching an agreement with employees to vary hours of work or salary and/or utilising leave strategies; issuing a stand-down notice; and/or redundancy measures - but only if the business met the circumstances set out in the Fair Work Act. The JobKeeper payment package announced by the federal government in March offered financial relief by subsidising wages.

However just before Easter (on Wednesday 8th April) the Job Keeper legislation was passed by Federal Parliament (Coronavirus Economic Response Package (Payments and Benefits) Act 2020) and it contained a very powerful additional strategy for businesses trying to manage through the crisis”.

“The legislation now gives an employer the ability to issue a JobKeeper enabling direction which may include any of three powerful variations to their current job conditions:

  1. JobKeeper enabling stand down - to work reduced hours or days of work (or none at all) if the employee cannot be usefully employed for their normal hours due to COVID-19 business impacts;

  2. Change in usual duties as long as the changed duties are within the employees skills and are safe; and/or

  3. Change in location of work, which can include working from home.

To be able to do this, both the employer and employee need to be eligible for the JobKeeper payment and the basis for decision making has to be reasonable and based on valid information (not an opportunistic move to change work during COVID-19). This new law amends the Fair Work Act and will apply for 6 months, effectively overriding any modern awards, EA’s or employment contracts, thereby loosening up these pre-existing restrictions”.

“Based on the conversations we are having with employers, this is potentially huge for businesses trying to keep their head afloat and also keep their employees working in any way they can through the crisis.

Australian research released in 2019 showed that pre-COVID-19, 40% of Australian workers felt insecure about their job, and job insecurity is one of the causative factors of workplace loneliness [1].  So having workforce management options available that make it easier for employers to keep their teams employed has huge benefits not only for business continuity but also on people’s mental health and wellbeing, which we know is under incredible stress at this time”.

In addition to be able to help you navigate your business and these complex workforce management issues, we’ve partnered with A Human Agency (A-HA) to share with us their knowledge and be available to offer specialised HR advice throughout this volatile period.

We know that good recruitment can place the right people into the right roles when you need them; and HR support for the rest of the employment cycle can help ensure your business continues to run smoothly and your investment in people and growth is realised.

We selected A Human Agency to be our HR partner because they are experienced in supporting practices and clinics in the medical industry and can offer you and your people advice and support over the phone, virtually, or on site, as and when you need, and they have kindly offered to extend a special reduced rate to all Medical Recruitment clients and partners.

If you’d like some advice to help your business respond to the current situation with agility, please don’t hesitate to contact Katie Adams who is our Medical Recruitment dedicated key contact person at A-HA on 0420 322 052 or via email to katie@a-ha.com.au. Katie will have an initial conversation with you to understand your particular needs are and discuss what support options are available.

Sources[1] Dr Lindsay McMillan OAM, Workplace Loneliness, a future that works, 2019 Reventure Ltd.


At Medical Recruitment, we’ve been specialising in GP recruitment for a long time, so we have expert knowledge in the space. If you’re looking for an exciting opportunity to work as a permanent or locum GP job or even for a GP role after hours, then look no further - get in touch with our Recruitment Consultants now.