Western Australia’s Critical Worker Furloughing Registration System
On Monday the 21st of February, the WA Premier Mark McGowan and the Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson launched the online critical worker furloughing registration system. When implemented, the critical worker furloughing policy will permit certain critical workers who are asymptomatic close contacts to temporarily attend work during their isolation period to alleviate workforce shortages, maintain critical services and avoid catastrophic losses such as loss of life, ongoing access to care and goods, and workplace safety.
The critical worker furloughing policy will play an important part in WA’s COVID-19 management when a very high caseload environment is reached. It will address potential workforce shortages and ensure critical supply chains and services are able to continue without disruption due to more people isolating as a positive case or an asymptomatic close contact.
A critical worker is someone whose role cannot be undertaken at home and who performs a critical role:
- to the COVID-19 response; or
- to the continuation of critical services that prevent significant harm to an individual or community (including loss of life, catastrophic impacts to safety or welfare or lack of access to essential goods); or
- that is necessary for the safe continuation of services in an essential industry or provides specialist skills in an essential industry.
Eligible industries are:
- Transport, freight and logistics, including public transport;
- Food, beverage and pharmaceutical manufacturing, supply and retail (e.g. supermarkets, grocery stores and pharmacies);
- Petrol stations and truck stops;
- Agriculture (for the purpose of food supply and biosecurity);
- Critical resources including mining, power, utilities, telecommunications and waste management services;
- Building and construction;
- Corrective and judicial services;
- Police and emergency services;
- Schools (K-12) and childcare (schools are subject to specific protocols and not required to register);
- Health care services (health care services are not covered by the COVID Transition (Critical Worker) Directions, are subject to separate furloughing guidance and are not required to register);
- Residential care;
- Veterinary services;
- Funeral, crematorium and cemetery services;
The state government has reiterated that employers must complete and submit the registration form by the time the critical worker settings are applied in their workplace. The online system requires an employer to complete and submit an online registration form, confirming their eligibility and how many potential critical roles they have identified. The online system can be accessed here:
The worker furloughing policy will be the last resort and only be implemented based on health advice in a very high caseload environment. Employers will be expected to make reasonable efforts to plan alternative strategies and implement appropriate risk management strategies in the workplace.
Critical workers who attend work under these settings must:
- Agree to work while asymptomatic
- Provide daily negative Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs),
- be fully vaccinated (including a third dose if eligible),
- Wear a mask at all times
- Self-isolate when not at work.
If at any point the critical worker tests positive or develops symptoms, they are no longer permitted to attend work.
For more information, please contact Emma Ramage, Western Australian Director on +61 430 811 929.