18th October 2021

Getting agency supplied workers back to work safely


As lockdowns end many people don’t have the option to WFH…

With lockdowns in Sydney and Canberra ended, and with Melbourne restrictions soon to follow (hopefully) there are some realities that need to be faced. For many people, their job roles cannot be carried out remotely.

Quite simply, in such cases, ‘Back to Work’ Vs. ‘Stay at Home’ is a false dilemma. For agencies filling these types of roles for clients, there is no choice other than getting temps and contractors back to work onsite, while minimising the infection risks. Here we look at how Australian recruitment agencies can safely get staff back to onsite working.

Australia is actually in quite a fortunate position. It is able to use the findings from many nations that have already emerged from lockdowns. The truth is that vaccinations are shown to reduce the severity of illness from Covid infection. This reduces the ‘viral load’ that an individual may produce, which in turn reduces the spread of the disease.

Basic practices including wearing face masks, frequent handwashing and maintaining social distancing, offer the simplest and most effective methods of avoiding infection when activities that bring people into close proximity in a place of work cannot be avoided.

Some other measures that are advised include:

A collection of factsheets that provide thorough guidance on all the prevention methods and recommendations can be found at Safe Work Australia.

We’re only human! – The need for a policy-led approach

As basic as these preventative measures sound, we are after all only human, and it is very easy to let best practice slip and for attitudes to become sloppy.

If all workers – both permanent employees and contractors – are to be protected by minimising the risk of infection, adopting these precautions successfully for the workplace means creating new protocols.

Where there is a need to set out a formalised and structured approach that defines your agency’s approach, it is highly advisable to use a policy-led approach. This may sound overly complicated, but it really makes sense, because it sets out a framework of practice and for the consequences that may result from non-compliance.

Here are some points to consider for putting your policy together to help you get your temps and contractors back to work as safely as possible.

1. Do some research!

There are plenty of guidelines and recommendations out there from many reputable, trusted sources. From high level government, regulatory and industrial bodies such as www.health.gov.au and the AWU, there is a plethora of content out there to help recruiters get up to speed. Consulting businesses such as McKinsey and PwC are also good sources of free reliable information.

2. Work out what your ideal policy looks like

Create your own policy. This is not intended to be a lengthy legal-esque language exercise. In fact it is better to stitch your own policy together using the sources of highly reputational content that you have just researched! Cut, Copy and Paste; rob, mix and match; beg borrow and steal from the ones already out there because they have done the legwork for you already! Modify where necessary to create the policy that makes the best sense and works for your agency.

3. Communicate your policy to clients

Share your policy and ask your clients for comments. Agency – Client relationships are sensitive. They are often predicated on personal relationships between agency account managers or directors, and key client-side stakeholders or sponsors. It is probably best to share with each client on a case by case basis, rather than through an email blast or a sudden COVID-19 policy statement update on your website.

4. Find out your clients’ own policies and collaborate

As part of your dialogue with each client, ask if you can see their policies. This allows you to quickly understand their thinking. It also opens the door to a collaborative effort, and sends a signal that addressing the issue is a shared endeavour, and it is in your mutual interest to work together.

5. Be prepared to negotiate

There may be some gaps between your agency policies and the policies of your clients. Differences may just be oversights resulting from the short timeframe in which information has been pulled together. It is likely that it may just require the two sets of policies brought into alignment. Avoid gaps becoming deal breakers; communicate to clear them up and be prepared to negotiate where differences actually exist.

6. Communicate with your workers

Once your agency and clients are on the same page, it is time to communicate the position to your workers. This means to both agency supplied temps and contractors and your agency back-office employees. Everyone needs to be in the loop so that there is no room for confusion or misunderstanding.

7. Quality Management through feedback

Getting feedback is an essential element in understanding how well coronavirus workplace safety polices are translating into practice. Listen to the comments made by your temps and contractors as well as your clients. This enables you to perform Quality Management for improving performance, and addressing any areas that raise concerns from either side.

Agencies minimise onsite coronavirus infection risks with ETZ

ETZ helps protect agency workers working onsite by eliminating the sharing of pens and the passing around of paper timesheet forms, both potential sources of infection. It also enables your back office to function when your staff need to work remotely from home. Why not consider including ETZ as part of your agency’s COVID-19 Back To Work Safely Policy?

To find out more about how our technology platform helps you minimise the risk to agency supplied temps and contractors, simply contact us today. Call us on +61 (0) 405 458 821 or book a demo.

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