COVID-19 Update

Friday 17 April 2020

Business Continuity

  • PMA A-NZ
    • COVID-19 Guidelines for the fresh produce industry
      • Protectecting the health and safety of your employees, their families, and the broader community
      • Ensuring the ongiong supply of fresh produce to Australian and New Zealand consumers, thereby supporting good nutrition and food security in this challenging time
      • Facilitating, as far as possible, business continuity, thereby ensuring businesses survive and there is ongoing job security for your workforce.
      • Download the PDF

Tuesday 7 April 2020

Employer support and requirements

  • Safe Food Queensland
    • Guideline for reducing workforce impacts related to COVID-19
      • The guideline should be used in conjuction with the Checklist for reducing workforce impact from COVID-19
  • Citrus Australia, have agreed for BFVG to share a resource developed to assist orchards & packing shed
  • The Australian Government
    • Working holiday visa holders must visit www.australia.gov.au and register for self-isolation before travelling to another area of the country so they can show a potential employer they have followed the health rules.

Business Continuity

  • Australian Government
    • Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment
    • Airfreight Support
      • Exporters wanting to use these freight services under this mechanism are strongly encouraged to register and provide information on your airfreight requirements directly to the Airfreight Assistance Team from the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE) by completing a short form HERE
        • Eligible products: Seafood, Premium red meat, Dairy, Horticulture (such as premium fruits and packaged salad or vegetables)
        • Eligible destination countries: China, Japan, Hong Kong, Sinapore and UAE (There is a 255 character limit, use this to nominate your priority destination ports)
        • Australian departure points: Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney and Perth (Can nominate other departure port)
  • Department of Home Affairs
    • Changes to Visa Conditions
      • Seasonal worker programme and pacific islander scheme workers can extend their stay for up to 12mths for approved employers
      • Above employers will need to continue engaging with Department of Education, Skills and Employment and ensure labour market testing for Australian workers is completed
      • Working holiday makers (WHM) will be exempt from the conditions of working with one employer for more than 6mths and may be eligible for afurther visa if their visa is due to expire in the next 6mths. More INFO
  • Queensland Government and NSW Department of Primary Industries
    • Border restrictions and entry passes for agriculture
      • The following States have border restrictions in place: Tasmania, Western Australia, Queensland, South Australia, Northern Territory.
      • Workers travelling interstate to Queensland, should have an entry pass and have this displayed in the passenger side of the windscreen.
      • If you contract workers through a labour contractor, both you and the labour contractor should have a Health plan in place.
      • Workers will also need to provide evidence of employment and accommodation. If they do not have this, they may be turned away at the border.
      •  Specific information on other requirements can be found HERE
  • ​Accessing the BFVG worker database

BFVG have been collating expressions of interest of displaced workers and working holiday maker visa holders to refer to available positions as they arise.

If you have a current or future need for workers, or might be concerned that your harvest positions won't be filled, complete the quick FORM to provide a quick guide on where workers may be needed in the coming weeks. 

Friday 3 April 2020

Safe Work Australia - UPDATED Resources

Wednesday 1 April 2020

Business Continuity

  • Australian Taxation Office (ATO)
    • COVID-19 Language HELP
    • JobKeeper Payment
      • Fortnighly payments of $1500 per eligible employee from 30 March 2020 for a max 6months
      • Eligibility for employers: turnover of less than $1 billion and turnover reduced more than 30% (of at least 1mth), turnover of more than $1 billion and turnover reduced more than 50% (of at least 1mth), not subject to the Major Bank Levy
      • Eligibility for employees: currently employed, or employed as of 1 March 2020, are Full-time, Part-time or long term casual (employed longer than 12mths), at least 16yrs of age, are an Au Citizen, or hold an eligible Visa, not getting Jobkeeper payment from another employer
      • FACTSHEET 
      • Register for payment application via ato.gov.au
      • Register for JobKeeper updates
  • Australian Government (Media Release)
    • Airfreight support for essential Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Industries - $110 million investment, working with return flights bringing essential medical supplies to Australia
      • Eligible produce is: Seafood, red meat, dairy, fruit and vegetables.
      • low value products likely to not be eligible
      • Destination countries - China, Japan, Hong Kong, Sinapore and UAE, other countries may be included based on demand and operating methods.
    • Apply with contact details to have your say
      • Business name, ABN and contact details
      • When you can start exporting
      • Routes; preferred departure and destination airport
      • Information on product type
    • Full factsheet available HERE 

Employer support and requirements

  • Workplace Health and Safety

Tuesday 31 March 2020

Business Continuity

  • Queensland Government
    • Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority
      • Applications for Queensland COVID-19 Jobs Support Loans
      • Low interest loans of up to $250,000. 10 year terms, 2.5% fixed interest with no interest or repayments for 1st year, 2 years of interest only and principal and interest repayments from the 3rd year
      • Applications close 25 September 2020
      • Guidelines and Application Checklists
      • Apply online
      • Need assistance with your applications, contact the BFVG team on 4153 3007 or QRIDA on 1800 623 946
  • ​​Do you have a workforce plan? Is your usual hiring mechanisms disrupted due to the COVID-19 restrictions, you can;
    • Complete the BFVG workforce SURVEY to identify predicted numbers of workers required and roles and BFVG can match workers for you from the Expression of Interest database currently being collected.
    • BFVG can list positions on the Government jobsearch or Harvest trail websites or you can register to post the positions yourself

Top tips! for keeping you and your workers safe

  • Can non-essential workers, operate from a home office
  • Relay picking - you can time each picker to start a few minutes after the 1st to ensure they are distanced from each other if picking in the same row
  • Control rows - each team of pickers can leave a row between them and double back in the row missed
  • Outside/Inside rows - you can split your pickers so one team starts from the middle of the crop and work out, and the other start on the outside and work in
  • Spread out in the pack shed where possible, if you can create separate zones for packing
  • Have every 2nd worker wear a mask 
  • Temperature check and record results. Make sure there is a record of what your accepted temperature range is.
  • Update your health and safety policies and procedures including what needs to happen if anyone has a temperature or is symptomatic and communicate this with your workers
  • Use mobile phones or radio to communicate instead of face-to-face conversations
  • If you are concerned, call 13HEALTH 13 43 25 84

Monday 30 March 2020

Employee support and requirements

  • Queensland Government
    • State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning
      • The Queensland Government is committed to assisting Queensland manufacturuers and businesses that are currently impacted by the ongoing coronavirus situation. If you are finding it difficult to obtain vital materials and supplies to remain open, please complete the form HERE

Friday 27 March 2020

General Information

  • Queensland Government, Queensland Health
    • Border Restrictions apply from 12.01am Thursday 19th March 2020
      • Anyone who arrives in Queensland after the above date and time must self-quarantine for 14 days
      • Exemptions to self-quarantine requirements include;
        • National/state security
        • essential health services
        • Transport of goods or freight including food
        • Critical maintenance/repair to critical infrastructure in Queensland
        • Construction, mining/energy/agribusinesses
        • Federal, state or local government workers who are required to enter to Queensland to perform official duties
      • You will need an entry pass as evidence for the above exemption categories
      • More detailed information available HERE
  • Fairwork Commission
    • Information note - Government responses to COVID-19 pandemic
      • To find out more about measures taken to restrict gatherings and non-essential business, and support for businesses, please read the Information note, updated 25th March

BFVG COVID-19 Notice: Effective from today, the BFVG Office will be closed to all public access until further notice. BFVG staff are still working normal hours and are available to assist with all Member enquiries, please call the office on 41533007 if there is anything our team can assist with.

Wednesday 25 March 2020

Contact Tracing Alerts

Queensland Government

Current status and contact tracing alerts, as of 24 March 2020

  • Queensland has had 397 confirmed cases of COVID-19 coronavirus.
  • Details on individual confirmed cases can be found HERE
  • Specific contact tracing details can be found HERE
  • Additional information including information on border restrictions and non-essential businesses can also be found HERE

Tuesday 24 March 2020

Employee support and requirements

  • A message from Sunsuper
    • COVID-19 and temporary early access to super
      • Guidance for Sunsuper members on temporary early access to super

        While superannuation helps people save for retirement, the Government has recognised that for those significantly financially affected by the coronavirus, accessing some of those savings today may outweigh the benefits of maintaining those savings until retirement.

        I wanted to make sure you were aware that if your employees are experiencing financial stress as a result of COVID-19, they may be eligible to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation in 2019-20 and a further $10,000 in 2020-21. They will need to apply directly to the ATO through the myGov website from mid-April 2020. It is important to note that applications cannot be made through Sunsuper directly.

        Your employees can find out more on our website, or read the government’s fact sheet.

  • ​​Australian Government Services

    • Additional financial support for the following payments; JobSeeker Payment (formally Newstart Allowance) | Youth Allowance | Parenting payment | Farm household Allowance | Special benefit
    • A COVID-19 supplement of $550.00 will be automatically added on top of your normal payment rate from 27 April 2020
    • If you are not in receipt of a current Government payment you can claim online through myGov using a Centrelink online account or call 

Monday 23 March 2020

Business continuity 

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  • Queensland Government
    • State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning
    • The Queensland Government is committed to assisting Queensland manufacturers and businesses that are currently impacted by the ongoing coronavirus situation. If you are finding it difficult to obtain vital materials and supplies to remain open, please complete the form available HERE
  • Federal Government

Managing Social Distancing & Hygiene

MEDIA RELEASE, SATURDAY 21 MARCH 2020

The Honourable Coralee O'Rourke
Minister for Communities and Minister for Disability Services and Seniors

Queenslanders in home quarantine as a result of COVID-19 will be able to access advise, information and support through the Queensland Government's Community Recover Hotline; 1800 173 349
Our staff will be able to work with partner organisations to arrange non0contact delivery of essential food and medication to people in quarantine who have no other means of support.

Queenslanders who require health advise or inforamtion while in quarantine or self-isolation should call 13 43 25 84 or visit: http://health.qld.gov.au/coronavirus

  • Relay picking - you can time each picker to start a few minutes after the 1st to ensure they are distanced from each other if picking in the same row
  • Control rows - each team of pickers can leave a row between them and double back in the row missed
  • Outside/Inside rows - you can split your pickers so one team starts from the middle of the crop and work out, and the other start on the outside and work in.

Employer support and requirements

  • Australian Government
    • Superannuation rquirements
      • Employers affected by disaster; The law does not allow businesses to extend the due date to pay the super guarantee contributions for your employees.
      • Detailed information HERE

Friday 20th March 2020

BFVG Office Policy COVID-19 | Effective 18th March 2020

  • Hand sanitiser is available upon entry and exit 
  • BFVG staff are limiting non-essential meetings or industry contact until further notice
  • Members and Stakeholders are requested to distance themselves from the office if they have 'flu-like' symptoms

While there are calls for extreme social distancing measures in other businesses, the BFVG team are still here to support our members, please ensure you call us, if you have any concerns. 

Keeping you updated, check our website and facebook page regularly as we will continually updates these sites as new information or resources become available.

Some specific areas we are working on during this world wide pandemic

Workforce 
Advocacy - Managing Director Bree Grima is working with State and Federal Departments to investigate changes in visa requirements to ensure the current workforce in Australia is maximised. Please phone Bree on 0403 616 702 if you believe you'll be impacted by labour shortages.

BFVG hosts the Queensland Agriculture Workforce Network, they are working with Government Departments and local service providers to determine assistance in sourcing workers and managing displaced workers.

We have currently identified up to 46 displaced workers from the Tourism, Retail and Hospitality industries that are local to the region and are currently seeking alternative employment during this time.
To assist us to provide swift referrals to positions you need to fill, please complete the below survey to provide us with essential information to fill the positions for you as swiftly as possible.

If you need assistance in managing your workforce, please call Kylie Jackson on 0488 533 801 or E: kylie.jackson@bfvg.com.au

Employer support and requirements

  • Fairwork Ombudsman
      • if an employer needs to stand down their employees or reduce their working hours
      • if an employee or their family member is sick with coronavirus
      • ​if an employee is stuck overseas or is required to be quarantined or to self-isolate.
  • Workplace Health and Safety 
    • Workplace Risk Management
      • Provide hand washing facilities and make sure these are kept clean, properly stocked and in good working order.
      • Provide alcohol-based hand sanitiser, tissues and cleaning supplies.
      • Promote good hygiene practices, e.g. display posters on handwashing and respiratory hygiene.
      • Keep the workplace clean and hygienic. Regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces such as door handles and workstations helps prevent contamination.
      • MORE INFORMATION
  • Managing the work environment and facilities
  • Managing Absences 
  • WorkCover Queensland 
  • Queensland Government Resource Support webpage - HERE

Communicating with workers

Managing Social Distancing & Hygiene

Tips!

Picking
  • Relay picking - you can time each picker to start a few minutes after the 1st to ensure they are distanced from each other if picking in the same row
  • Control rows - each team of pickers can leave a row between them and double back in the row missed
  • Outside/Inside rows - you can split your pickers so one team starts from the middle of the crop and work out, and the other start on the outside and work in.
Packing
  • Spread out - if possible spread your packers out
  • Split the team -  if possible, stagger your shifts
Office Staff
  • Can they work from home? Check the ATO website for details on Home office requirements, if you request staff to work from home you may be obligated to pay compensation
  • Can you limit how many staff are in the office at any one time? 
Hygiene
  • Ensure all workers are advised of the additional hygiene requirements, make use of the above available templates and posters
  • Enforce your workers to use sanitiser and to wash their hands at all required times
  • Disinfect surfaces (including cabs of machinery)

Business continuity 

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  • Fairwork Commission
    • Hearings and Conferences - Some of these are being postponed or changed to telephone or and videoconferencing where possible
    • If you have urgent applications, such as applications to vary enterprise agreements or other instruments that deal with the consequences of COVID-19, they can be sent to COVID19Applications@fwc.gov.au
  • Australian Tax Office
    • Tailored support plans, include;
      • Deferral by up to 4mths payments due on BAS, PAYG, income tax assessments, FBT and excise
      • Allow businesses to opt into month GST reporting
      • Allowing businesses to vary PAYG instalments to '0' for March 2020 quarter
      • Contact: Emergency Support Infoline 1800 806 218
    • Government Stimulus
      • Instant asset write-off threshold increased to $150,000. Eligible businesses also include those who have aggregated annual turnover of less than $500 million
      • Accelerated depreciation deductions
      • Small and medium businesses with aggregated annual turnover under $50 million of up to $25,000
      • Support for Apprentices and Trainees - up to 50% wage subsidy for up to 9mths INFO
  • Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority (QRIDA)
  • FIAL Black Summer Innovation Program
    • Grants of up to $25,000
    • Applications close 9th April 2020
    • More INFO

Food Safety

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  • Advice from Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is that the virus is unlikely to be transmitted through food, however investigations into how the virus spreads is continuing.
  • The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has released a statement noting there is currently no evidence that food is a likely source or route of transmission of the virus.
  • The latest information, including food safety advice and advice for food businesses can be found on the FSANZ website
  • Safe Food Queensland has also developed very useful FAQs, which you can find on their website
Information from Certification bodies for Freshcare and HARPS Audits
  • SaiGlobal | Advise that some audits are being conducted remotely. This does depend on the Scheme. Contact them to find out if you are eligible.
  • Australian Certified Organics | Spot/Unannounced audits are on hold, for Annual Audits if the business does not have any restrictions than these can be conducted 'as business as usual'. Audits can be rescheduled on a case-by-case scenario. You should contact to find out more
  • AusQual | Advise it is business as usual, please see email communications provided HERE
  • BSI Group | We were unable to get comment from them, please contact them for updates
  • Merieux NutriSciences | Advise they will be following the guidelines of each standard, view information shared to clients HERE
  • SGS | We were unable to get comment from them, please contact them for updates
  • SciQual | Advise that it is business as usual unless otherwise advised, please contact them for updates
Freshcare Advise

Stay Updated!

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OTHER WEBSITES AND CONTACTS
 

Business continuity 

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  • Fairwork Commission
    • Hearings and Conferences - Some of these are being postponed or changed to telephone or and videoconferencing where possible
    • If you have urgent applications, such as applications to vary enterprise agreements or other instruments that deal with the consequences of COVID-19, they can be sent to COVID19Applications@fwc.gov.au
  • Australian Tax Office
    • Tailored support plans, include;
      • Deferral by up to 4mths payments due on BAS, PAYG, income tax assessments, FBT and excise
      • Allow businesses to opt into month GST reporting
      • Allowing businesses to vary PAYG instalments to '0' for March 2020 quarter
      • Contact: Emergency Support Infoline 1800 806 218