Dairy Australia - Dairy information for Australian Dairy Farmers and the industry

Primary content

This information provided is a guide only and professional advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

  • Copy Link Where can I get information on health and safety in the workplace?

    For information about health and safety in the workplace, including legal obligation of employers and employees, go to:

    Source: Fair Work Australia 

  • Copy Link Can my employer ask for a doctors’ certificate to state employee fitness?

    Can my employer ask for a doctors’ certificates to state employee fitness if they think I could have been exposed through my personal activities? 

    Yes.

    In addition, employers have duties under Work Health and Safety laws to ensure a safe workplace.

    The Work Health and Safety laws also require employees to obey reasonable instructions.

    Employees also have duties under Work Health and Safety laws to take reasonable care for their own health and safety and not adversely affect the health and safety of other persons in the workplace.

    In this circumstance the employer is obliged to pay the employee for the time taken to get the medical certificate and the time taken to get the clearance (2 to 5 days).

    With health systems stretched to the limit and limited testing kits available, you, as an employee, may not be easily able to get an appointment, so your employer should only insist on such a test IF there is a likelihood of recent exposure. Follow the government guidelines on when testing is recommended.

  • Copy Link What are the legal obligations for where employees choose not to come to work based on personal risk?

    Full time/part time

    If an employee chooses not to come to work, an employer does not have to pay them for the time spent away from work.

    Full time and part time employees could choose to access their accrued annual leave and may be able to access long service leave. State laws vary - check your relevant state government websites at The People in Dairy and refer to table at the bottom of this page. 

    Employers cannot unreasonably refuse to agree to a request by an employee to take paid annual leave. COVID19 would be regarded as a reasonable reason to access annual leave.

    Employers may consider allowing employees to take annual leave in advance if they do not have sufficient accrued annual leave.

    Casual employees

    If a casual employee chooses not to come to work, an employer does not have to pay them for the time spent away from work.

    Casual employees are paid a loading to compensate them for entitlements such as annual leave and personal leave (sick leave).

    The government has indicated that it will allow easy access to government benefits for casual employees who cannot attend work due to COVID19 - visit Services Australia for more information.

  • Copy Link What are the legal obligations where employees are sick?

    Full time/part time

    If full time/part time employees contract COVID19 they would then be entitled to utilise their accrued personal leave (sick leave).

    An employer is entitled to ask for a medical certificate as evidence of the need for the leave.

    If employees exhaust their accrued personal leave, employers could allow them to take accrued annual leave or long service leave, or take annual leave in advance. State laws vary - check state government at The People in Dairy .

    Employers cannot unreasonably refuse to agree to a request by an employee to take paid annual leave. COVID19 would be regarded as a reasonable reason to access annual leave.

    Casual employees

    Casual employees are paid a loading to compensate them for entitlements such as personal leave (sick leave).

    The government has indicated that it will allow easy access to government benefits for casual employees who cannot attend work – visit Services Australia for more information

    Remember - An employer cannot terminate an employee’s employment due to temporary absence for illness. Anti-discrimination laws also apply.

  • Copy Link What are the legal obligations where employees are forced to self-isolate due to close contact?

    Full time/part time

    Because the self-isolation is imposed by government, an employer does not have to pay the employee if they are self-isolating due to close contact.

    Employees who are self-isolating due to close contact should report to their employer daily in case they begin to exhibit symptoms.

    Full time and part time employees can be permitted to access their accrued annual leave and may be able to access long service leave. State laws vary - check your relevant state government websites at The People in Dairy and refer to table at the bottom of this page.

    Employers cannot unreasonably refuse to agree to a request by an employee to take paid annual leave. COVID19 would be regarded as a reasonable reason to access annual leave.

    Employers could allow employees to take annual leave in advance if they do not have sufficient accrued annual leave.

    Casual employees

    Casual employees are paid a loading to compensate them for entitlements such as personal leave (sick leave).

    The government has indicated that it will allow easy access to government benefits for casual employees who cannot attend work – visit Services Australia for more information.

  • Copy Link If I am well but my employer wants me to stay away from work, does my employer need to pay me?

    If I (the employee) am well but my employer wants me to stay away from work, does my employer need to pay me?

    Yes. Employers are legally entitled to direct employees to stay away from work if they believe that the employee may have been exposed to COVID-19.

    However, because this requirement exceeds government requirements, if the employee is ready and willing to attend work, they are entitled to be paid as normal and cannot be required to use accrued leave entitlements. Check the Australian Government advice relating to self-isolation and self-isolation factsheet.

  • Copy Link Can I extend my visa?

    Can I extend my visa?

    Last updated: 8 April 2020

    On 4 April 2020, the federal government announced changes to the visa system as it applies to Working Holiday Makers (WHMs) (subclass 417 working holiday visas and subclass 462 work and holiday visas).

    If you:

    • have a WHM visa which is due to expire in six months, and you have not completed the requirements for a second or third working holiday visa as at 4 April 2020, (3 months’ and 6 months’ work in specified work respectively)
    • and you wish to stay in Australia (and/or are unable to return to your home country)

    you are able to work in ‘specified work’, which includes dairy farming, if you obtain an extension to your visa via the Temporary Activity subclass 408 Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream visa.  The “Pandemic visa” is free.

    Visit Department of Home Affairs for further information and how to apply called “Pandemic visa” and read the Frequently Asked Questions for WHM visa

    For more information, direct enquiries to Department of Home Affairs

    Remember: working in Australia without a visa with work rights is a breach of the law by both employer and employee. Check visa conditions online at VEVO

    If you have a WHM visa, you are able to work in ‘specified work’, which includes dairy farming, for the one employer for 12 months, rather than six months.

    If you have WHM visa and you have completed the 3 month or 6 month requirement for specified work, you should apply in the ordinary manner for a second or third 417 or 462 visa. A bridging visa will be provided to enable you to continue to work while the visa is processed.

  • Copy Link What should an employer do if supplies of real or perceived necessities are not available ?

    What should an employer do if supplies of real or perceived necessities are not available (e.g. hand sanitiser, masks)?

    Safe Work Australia advises: under the model WHS laws, employers must do everything that is reasonably practicable to eliminate the risk of a worker contracting COVID-19 at the workplace, or where this is not reasonably practicable, they must minimise the risk of a worker contracting COVID-19 at the workplace.

    This means employers must provide a work environment that is without risk to health and safety, including access to facilities for good hygiene such as adequate supply of soap, water and toilet paper; and make sure these are kept clean, properly stocked and in good working order.

    If those supplies are not available, for the purposes of the model WHS laws, it would not be reasonably practicable for an employer to provide them. For example:

    • If there are no supplies of masks in Australia, an employer cannot be required, to provide a mask. In those circumstances, an employer should consider what alternative measures or approaches can be taken to eliminate or minimise risk.

    • If there are no supplies of hand sanitiser, a PCBU should consider providing access to soap rather than hand sanitiser.

    Ultimately however, if an employer is unable to obtain necessary supplies to provide a work environment that is without risks, they should consider whether the risks posed to workers and others at the workplace are so great that workers should not be required to attend the workplace and perform work. This will need to be determined on a case by case basis. Read more at Safe Work Australia.

    Source: Safe Work Australia

  • Copy Link What jobs are available in the dairy industry?

    What jobs are available in the dairy industry?

    At this stage, individual states are offering different ways of enquiring or registering about paid work. Visit the sites below for more information.

    Please do not physically visit farms seeking work – dairy farms do not want additional and unexpected visitors due to the risk of spreading COVID-19.

    Click for state information (at 2/4/20)

    If you are on a working holiday visa, you may be able to apply for visa extensions, depending on your circumstances. Check the Home Affairs website regularly for updates to visa eligibility.

  • Copy Link What entitlements do contractors have?

    Independent contractors are not employees and do not have paid leave entitlements under the Fair Work Act.

    • Farmers may choose to engage an independent contractor when they have a specific job which needs to be done by a person with a particular skill, for instance, silage making or hay making.

    • It’s important to be able to distinguish between an independent contractor and an employee - the law imposes different rights and obligations on those who engage independent contractors and those who engage employees.

    At the same time, it is important to distinguish between a person who comes to work for you as an independent contractor and the various professionals and trades people who come to your property (e.g. electricians, vets and AI technicians). This section does not deal with these people as the arrangements under which they provide a service to you are usually clear cut and well understood.

    Visit The People in Dairy for further information about contractors.

  • Copy Link If a contractor is deemed an employee, what implications does this have?

    If a contractor is deemed an employee, what implications does this have on my business and their entitlements?

    If the contractor is, in reality, an employee, then they are entitled to the benefits listed above. 

    Once the crisis passes this may be a good time to reassess these arrangements. Visit The People in Dairy for further information about contractors. 

  • Copy Link Is financial assistance available for employers?

    The Australian Government has announced support for small businesses which you may be able to access regarding to employing staff, apprentices or trainees, boosting cash flow and assistance for regional communities and industries, including agriculture, affected by COVID-19.

    Visit the Federal Business website for more information.