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The three pillars of any return to work plan – on an individual and organisational scale – are awareness, communication and action. Our new workplace normal is being redefined as employees and organisations return to operations around Australia. Both big and small businesses are managing changes to activities and supply chains, working arrangements, cash flow and their people in order to adapt to the COVID-19 climate.

Already, we have seen the effects on businesses during COVID-19 and now, as we go through the phases of the federal government’s ‘Exit Strategy’, businesses need to employ the three pillars to ensure a successful return to work. In this digitalised and globalised world technology and data collection are companies’ greatest assets in generating positive and proactive awareness, communication and action for this purpose.

COVID-19 and the Workplace for Employers

COVID-19 is a novel (new) strain of the coronavirus that was first verified in late January 2020 in Australia. As an employer, it is your responsibility to identify and manage workplace hazards and risks that could affect your people’s health and safety. With the spread of the global COVID-19 pandemic and no current vaccine or cure, the virus will likely remain a workplace hazard for the foreseeable future. Where practicable, employers must mitigate or eliminate the risk of workers’ exposure to COVID-19.


The virus is contracted from close contact with an infected person and from touching surfaces or objects contaminated with particles (from a cough or sneeze) from an infected person. Symptoms are similar to the flu, such as a cough, sore throat, fever, shortness of breath or tiredness. Carriers can also be asymptomatic, meaning an infected person may not display symptoms is still infectious.

As we approach winter and the cold and flu season in Australia, it is important to consider that most workers who present respiratory symptoms have likely caught the common cold, flu or other respiratory illnesses that occur at this time of year; not COVID-19.

However, the virus still presents a very real risk to Australians, and so companies should work to reduce employees’ risk of exposure to COVID-19 while maintaining a positive and calm workplace culture. Employers must strike the right balance of appropriate action and aim to avoid generating uncertainty, panic and the spread of misinformation, which can easily occur during pandemics of this nature.

Not only is awareness around the physical health and wellbeing of individual workers critical to business operations in this new environment, but also worker education regarding the virus, exposure, symptoms and the necessity of biometrics. Educating yourself and your employees on workplace health and safety can be the difference in a successful return to work for your business.

Safe Work Australia has provided information pertaining to temperature checks and masks in the workplace for each industry under work health and safety laws here. More information and education regarding coronavirus health and safety laws can be found on the federal government’s Fair Work Ombudsman website.



Communication is vital to ensuring a safe return to work for Australian businesses and workers in the current climate. As an employer or business owner, your aim is to demonstrate transparency, empathy, optimism and prioritisation of your people to maintain a positive and safe workplace.

Transparency is the conveyance of open and proactive information to workers in a timely and clear manner. Providing coronavirus updates regarding the situation, the impact, how the business is managing it and how employees should respond is key. Encouraging workers to express concerns and feedback also fosters trust and reduces adverse reactions.

Communicating with empathy improves trust between workers and employers and creates a greater ability to adapt to change during challenging times. An empathetic approach can also help with employee mental health and wellbeing, which can ultimately affect business operations.

Prioritising your people’s health and safety is critical for your business’ ongoing operations and long-term sustainability. Implementing appropriate and informed policies and procedures and sharing these with your workers will help your people return to work, with a shared common goal.


Employers should have an action plan in place to respond to COVID-19 cases at work as per the guidelines and advice provided by your state government department of health. By applying the aforementioned two pillars to your organisation’s action plan, you will provide your employees with the capabilities to respond with decisiveness and timeliness. KINNECT has developed several tools to assist employers in actioning their return to work plans. Please see below for more information.

Using Data Collection and Technology

The use of technology and data is your organisation’s most powerful tool for achieving a successful return to operations. This tool is efficient, effective and well-developed to assist companies in implementing the three pillars across organisational levels while protecting information and privacy. For more information, read Using Technology to Help Your Company Return to Work.

How can KINNECT assist?

KINNECT is a national Occupational Health and Rehabilitation provider that has custom built our own cloud-based platform with the aim of reinventing the way employers manage their occupational health needs. We have leveraged the power of technology and innovation to establish a unique point of difference in the market, which has assisted many private and public sector employers, more than ever, in managing their screening and monitoring requirements during the pandemic.


Employers need to effectively monitor the health of their workforce daily and identify those with potential symptoms, all to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Employers should have appropriate procedures in place to ensure that any employee returning to work, following recovery from COVID-19, is safe to do so without placing any other employee at risk of contracting the virus.

KINNECT has developed several services to assist employers during COVID-19:

  • COVID-19 Online Health Declaration Form – a health screening tool used to evaluate an employee’s health status and their daily risk of COVID-19.
  • COVID-19 Return to Work Service – access to our COVID-19 hotline, direction and reporting, employee health management and symptom diary, and access to our skilled and experienced Occupational Physicians.
  • Onsite COVID-19 Workforce Screening – includes our health declaration form, temperature checks, symptoms screening, hygiene education, COVID-19 fingerprick serology point of care testing and fitness for work determination by KINNECT’s Medical Practitioners.
  • COVID-19 24/7 Hotline – access to a 24/7 hotline connecting you to experienced health professionals, employee case management, COVID-19 testing, case updates and access to our Occupational Physicians.
  • COVID-19 Vulnerable Employee Health Risk Screening – online health profile survey, reporting, review by KINNECT’s Occupational Physicians and consultation with the employer.
  • Online Resilience Course – developed by experienced Clinical Psychologists to encourage resilience in the workplace.
  • Online Education and Awareness Seminars – presented by KINNECT’s chief consulting Occupational Physician to provide communication on COVID-19 using the latest information.




Fair Work Ombudsman, Health and safety in the workplace during coronavirus


Occupational Health and Safety, How Technology & Data are Being Used to Help Companies Return to Work


Safe Work Australia, COVID-19 Information for Workplaces


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