Information for Farm Owners and Employees

Information for Farm Owners and Employees



Information on employer responsibilities

  • Worker permits

    This information was last updated 5 August 2020. 

    FOR BUSINESSES LOCATED IN A REGION SUBJECT TO STAGE 4 RESTRICTIONS

    From 11:59pm on Wednesday 5 August 2020, Stage 4 restrictions will be placed on businesses in specified regions of Victoria. To enable critical businesses to continue operating, the Victorian Government has introduced a Permitted Worker scheme.

    Employers who require their staff to attend a work site must issue a worker permit to their employees – this is the employer’s responsibility.

    Employers can issue a worker permit to their employee if:

    • the organisation is on the list of permitted activities
    • the employee is working in an approved category for on-site work, and
    • the employee cannot work from home.

    Each employee required to be on site must receive an individual worker permit with the required details. Employers must:

    • Download the worker permit template and fill it out.
    • Sign the worker permit. You can print and sign or sign it electronically.
    • Ask the employee to sign the worker permit. They can print and sign or sign electronically.

    Visit the Permitted Worker scheme webpage for more information and eligibility criteria.

  • COVID 19 Stimulus packages

    (01 September 2020)
    PDF,141.22 KB
  • COVID 19 Business Stimulus Initiative JobKeeper and JobSeeker 14May2020

    (01 September 2020)
    PDF,117.28 KB

The below information is provided to employers around their legal obligations under different types of employment. It includes:

  • Legal obligations for permanent full time or part time employees
  • Legal obligations for casual employees
  • Questions and answers

This information is designed to enable farm owners to consider their workforce options and make decisions based on their needs, in accordance with legal requirements. Each farm is different and will approach COVID-19 in their own way, based on their requirements.

Keeping the lines of communication open with your employees is especially important during challenging and unexpected situations like COVID-19.

Consider how to best manage your workforce during COVID-19 to protect you, your family and your farm team’s health and wellbeing. This is not easy and circumstances may change rapidly as COVID19 progresses. Think about your current and possible future workforce needs if change is required in your farm business. 

You can use the COVID-19 flow chart for farm employers (Version 2, 14 April) to work through your responsibilities for permanent full-time and part-time staff.

Legal obligations for employers - permanent full time or part time employees *UPDATED
(Last update: 2 October 2020)

  • 1. Employee chooses not to come to work based on personal risk

    No you don’t have to pay them.

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

    See footnotes 1 to 5 below.

  • 2. Employee is forced to self-isolate due to close contact

    No you don’t have to pay them.

    Because the self-isolation is imposed by government, you do 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 be encouraged to report to their employer daily in case they begin to exhibit symptoms.

    Check the Australian Government advice relating to self-isolation.

    The COVID-19 clause in the Pastoral Award 2010 has been extended to 29 March 2021 as of the first full pay period commencing on or after 30 September 2020. From 8 April 2020, award employees are entitled to take up to 2 weeks’ unpaid pandemic leave. This leave must commence before 29 March 2021. 

    Notice and evidence requirements apply. Go to  Schedule X of the Pastoral Award 2010.

    See footnotes 1 to 7 below.

  • 3. When employee is sick

    Employees can access accrued personal/carer’s leave.

    If an employee contracts COVID-19 they would be entitled to utilise their accrued personal/carer’s leave (sick leave).

    If employees have used all of their personal/carer’s leave, see footnotes 1 to 7 below.

    The COVID-19 clause in the Pastoral Award 2010 has been extended to 29 March 2021 as of the first full pay period commencing on or after 30 September 2020. From 8 April 2020, award employees are entitled to take up to 2 weeks’ unpaid pandemic leave. This leave must commence before 29 March 2021. Notice and evidence requirements apply.  Go to Schedule X of the Pastoral Award 2010.

    You can ask for a medical certificate as evidence of the need for the leave. 

    Remember - you cannot terminate an employee’s employment due to temporary absence for illness.

    Anti-discrimination laws also apply.

  • 4. Employee is well, employer wants them to stay away from work

    Yes, you need to pay them.

    You are legally entitled to direct employees to stay away from work if the employer has concerns, but employee is not required by the government to self-isolate.

    Refer to #2 for more information about self-isolation.

  • 5. Employee stays home to care for a child/relative who is sick and self-isolating

    Employees can access personal/carer’s leave.

    Employees who are required to care for a family / household member who is sick can use their accrued personal/carer’s leave.

    If this is exhausted, employees can access:

    • a further 2 days’ unpaid personal/carer’s leave per occasion.
    • 2 days’ paid compassionate leave per occasion if a family member or member of their household contracts a serious illness which poses a threat to their life.

    The COVID-19 clause in the Pastoral Award 2010 has been extended to 29 March 2021 as of the first full pay period commencing on or after 30 September 2020. From 8 April 2020, award employees are entitled to take up to 2 weeks’ unpaid pandemic leave. This leave must commence before 29 March 2021. Notice and evidence requirements apply. Go to Schedule X of the Pastoral Award 2010.

    You can ask for a medical certificate as evidence of the need for the leave.

    If employees have used all of their personal/carer’s leave, see footnotes 1 to 7 below.

  • 6. Employee is well, stays home to care for a child who can’t attend school

    Employees can access personal/carer’s leave.

    Employees who are required to provide care or support for a family / household member due to an “unexpected emergency” can use their accrued personal/carer’s leave.

    If this is exhausted employees can access a further 2 days’ unpaid personal/carer’s leave per occasion.

    COVID19 would be regarded as an “unexpected emergency”.

    If employees have used all of their personal/carer’s leave, see footnotes 1 to 5 below.

  • Footnotes

    1. You could consider allowing employees to use their accrued annual leave.

    2. Employers cannot unreasonably refuse to agree to a request by an employee to take paid annual leave.

    3. COVID19 would be regarded as a reasonable reason to access annual leave.

    4. You could consider allowing employees to take annual leave in advance if they do not have sufficient accrued annual leave.

    5. You could also consider allowing employees to take Long service leave - laws vary from state to state. Check your relevant state government websites at The People in Dairy and refer to table at the bottom of this page.

    6. Reminder - accurate record keeping will be important. Visit The People in Dairy to access leave templates you can use in your farm business.

    7. The COVID-19 clause in the Pastoral Award 2010 has been extended to 29 March 2021 as of the first full pay period commencing on or after 30 September 2020. From 8 April 2020, award employees are entitled to take up to 2 weeks’ unpaid pandemic leave. This leave must commence before 29 March 2021. Notice and evidence requirements apply. Go to Schedule X of the Pastoral Award 2010 for further details.

Legal obligations for employers - casual employees *UPDATED (Last update: 2 October 2020)

  • 1. Choose not to come to work based on personal risk

    If a casual employee chooses not to come to work, you do 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).

    See footnotes 1 to 2 below.

  • 2. Employees are forced to self-isolate due to close contact

    No you don’t have to pay them.

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

    Check the Australian Government advice relating to self-isolation.

    The COVID-19 clause in the Pastoral Award 2010 has been extended to 29 March 2021 as of the first full pay period commencing on or after 30 September 2020. From 8 April 2020, award employees are entitled to take up to 2 weeks’ unpaid pandemic leave. This leave must commence before 29 March 2021. Notice and evidence requirements apply. Go to Schedule X of the Pastoral Award 2010.

    See footnotes 1 and 2 below.

  • 3. When employees are sick

    No you don’t have to pay them.

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

    The COVID-19 clause in the Pastoral Award 2010 has been extended to 29 March 2021 as of the first full pay period commencing on or after 30 September 2020. From 8 April 2020, award employees are entitled to take up to 2 weeks’ unpaid pandemic leave. This leave must commence before 29 March 2021. Notice and evidence requirements apply. 

    Go to Schedule X of the Pastoral Award 2010.

    Remember - you cannot terminate an employee’s employment due to temporary absence for illness.

    Anti-discrimination laws also apply.

    See footnotes 1 and 2 below.

  • 4. Employee is well, employer wants them to stay away from work

    Yes, you need to pay them.

    You are legally entitled to direct employees to stay away from work if the employer has concerns, but employee is not required by the government to self-isolate.

    Refer to #2 for more information about self-isolation.

  • 5. Employee stays home to care for a child/relative who is sick and self-isolating

    No you don’t have to pay them

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

    Casual employees who are required to provide care or support for a family / household member due to an “unexpected emergency” can access a 2 days’ unpaid personal/carer’s leave per occasion.

    COVID19 would be regarded as an “unexpected emergency”.

    Casual employees can also access 2 days’ unpaid compassionate leave per occasion if the family member or member of their household contracts a serious illness which poses a threat to their life.

    The COVID-19 clause in the Pastoral Award 2010 has been extended to 29 March 2021 as of the first full pay period commencing on or after 30 September 2020. From 8 April 2020, award employees are entitled to take up to 2 weeks’ unpaid pandemic leave. This leave must commence before 29 March 2021. Notice and evidence requirements apply. Go to Schedule X of the Pastoral Award 2010.

    You are entitled to ask for a medical certificate as evidence of the need for the leave.  

    See footnotes 1 to 2 below.

  • 6. Employee is well, stays home to care for a child who can’t attend school

    No you don’t have to pay them.

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

    Casual employees who are required to provide care or support for a family / household member due to an “unexpected emergency” can access 2 days’ unpaid personal/carer’s leave per occasion. COVID-19 would be regarded as an “unexpected emergency”.

    See footnotes 1 to 2 below.

  • Footnotes

    1. 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.
    2. Reminder - accurate record keeping will be important. Visit The People in Dairy to access leave templates you can use in your farm business

Employee rights and responsibilities

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

  • 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:

    • Safe Work Australia
    • Your State or Territory workplace health and safety body (who can also assist with workers’ compensation enquiries)
    • The Australian Government Department of Health for the latest information and advice about the coronavirus

    Source: Fair Work Australia 

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

COVID-19 positive affected farms

In situations where one of the farm team (owner or employee) has been diagnosed as positive for COVID-19, through the appropriate testing process, there are steps you need to take to assist in maintaining business continuity and to resume normal operations.

  • COVID 19 Checklist for farms affected by a positive diagnosis 29 July 2020

    (01 September 2020)
    PDF,190.74 KB

How to reduce COVID-19 risk on-farm

Fast facts for preventing the spread

  • Social distancing for people working on farm

    Preventing the spread of COVID-19 during milking

    In addition to the information below the following downloads are also available.

    Watch our latest video to see some of the simple, practical steps farmers can implement during milking to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

     

    Why would we consider “physical distancing” during milking?

    The Federal Government, together with State Governments and the Australian Dept. of Health, have clearly outlined the role of physical distancing (or “social” distancing) in reducing the risk of COVID-19 spread in our communities. Practically, this means that in all aspects of work and daily life we attempt to maintain more than 1.5 m separation between individuals, regardless of the activity.

    Note that there is no evidence that farm animals or milk can act as a carrier for COVID-19.

    To check on up-to-date guidelines on physical (social) distancing and hygiene measures refer to:

    Practical aspects of physical distancing during milking:

    • Rotary sheds are easier to practice physical distancing in because milkers are generally on opposite sides of the bridge.
    • If two milkers are positioned at cups on or cups off, leave 3 bails between you at all times.
    • For herringbone sheds (swing-over or double-ups), if milking in zones is not already part of the routine put this in place.
    • Zone milking means that, for example, two milkers operate at different ends of the herringbone and work in a parallel routine so their direction of activity in the shed is always the same.This method maintains physical separation of milkers.
    • Be clear on which milker is responsible for going into the yard should herding be required to avoid people cross-over.
    • Be clear on which milker is responsible for cow drafting activities to avoid cross- over.

    Other tips to prevent COVID-19 transmission during milking

    Infection control for milkers:

    • Milkers must thoroughly wash hands with soap and water or use hand sanitiser before the start of milking and before each time they put milking gloves back on (if taken off).
    • Gloves must be disposed of when milking tasks are finished (do not reuse gloves).
    • Wear milking gloves from the very start of the milking routine through to the end.This includes from starting the dairy and connecting the vat hose to milking plant shut-off, vat hose dis-connection and leaving the dairy.
    • At the end of each run, or after approximately 20 cows in a rotary shed, spray your milking gloves with teat disinfection, or 70% alcohol, or another appropriate disinfectant/sanitiser.
    • Practice good respiratory hygiene (coughing and sneezing into a tissue or your elbow) and avoid touching your face.

    Managing contact with “high touch” work surfaces:

    COVID-19 is a 'sticky' virus that finds its way onto surfaces including plastics and stainless steel. It can be spread by people who don’t have any symptoms and may not know they are infected.

    • Wipe down/spray with disinfectant any jointly used and/or shared pieces of milking equipment. This refers to all high (repetitive) touch surfaces within the dairy and may include control buttons, hoses, railings, gate operations, test buckets and worker amenities (eating area and personal hygiene facilities etc).
    • Ensure milkers have their own set of protective clothing (e.g. milking aprons and sleeves) and are not sharing.
    • Either disinfect all clothing and boots before leaving the farm OR consider having a fresh set of clothes for use only on farm.
  • Social distancing for service providers

    Preventing the spread of COVID-19 during service provider visits

    Download a copy of the Preventing the spread of COVID-19 during service provider visits fact sheet.

    Why practice social (physical) distancing?

    The Federal Government, together with State Governments and the Australian Department of Health, have clearly outlined the role of physical distancing (referred to as “social” distancing) in reducing the risk of COVID-19 spread in our communities. Practically, this means that in all aspects of work and daily life we attempt to maintain more than 1.5 metre separation between individuals, regardless of the activity.

    Note that there is currently no evidence that farm animals or milk can act as a carrier for COVID-19.

    To check on up-to-date guidelines on social (physical) distancing and infection control measures refer to:

    It is strongly recommended that farmers, service providers and others in higher risk age groups, plus those with underlying high-risk health conditions, do not engage in non-essential service provision on-farm.

    As a dairy farmer, what do I need to ask service providers and others prior to their visit?

    If you are planning for someone to come on the farm, consider if the visit to farm is business critical. Is it urgent or can it be postponed?

    Ask:

    • Are there other options allowing for the job be done remotely (phone or via computer)?
    • If a farm visit is required, then who absolutely needs to be involved with the task? Keep this to a minimum. Refer to the web links above.
    • If it is business critical, talk with your service provider about how you’ll approach it before they arrive, so they know what to expect and what you require from them.

    Critical health questions to ask are:

    • Have they been overseas recently or had any contact with infected or quarantined people?
    • Are they well and have no cold or flu-like symptoms?
    • Do they agree to meet physical distancing and hygiene measures at all times while on site?

    Before they come to the farm, discuss the requirements specific to COVID-19:

    • Ensure physical distancing (more than 1.5 metres) between service provider and anyone else on farm that you require for the job on site.
    • Check that they can meet hand sanitising and personal hygiene expectations prior to arrival and frequently during the day (after each work task and for personal hygiene).
    • Maintain communication with those on the farm and frequently review that the task is being done using physical distancing principles.

    As a service provider, can I go on farms?

    Consider, before you go on farm, are you prepared for physical distancing while conducting the job on site and do you have the personal hygiene requirements (hand sanitiser etc) in your vehicle?

    Check the Australian Government Department of Health website for up to date information on physical distancing requirements. 

    1. If you are planning to go on farm, consider if the visit to farm is business critical.Is it urgent or can it be postponed?
    2. Are there other options allowing for the job be done remotely (phone or via computer)?
    3. If a farm visit is required, then who absolutely needs to be involved with the task? Keep this to a minimum.Refer to the web links above.
    4. Before I go on the farm, can I implement physical distancing for the job on site?Do I have enough hand sanitiser available for frequent use during the task and for personal hygiene?

    Infection control for service providers

    1. Service providers must thoroughly wash hands with soap and water or use hand sanitiser before and after completing work on farm. Carry hand sanitizer for use during the job.
    2. Practice good respiratory (coughing/sneezing into a tissue or your elbow) hygiene and avoid touching your face at all times.
    3. It is recommended that service providers wear disposable gloves through all parts of the farm visit regardless of the task being performed.Disposable gloves should be thrown out after each activity.Non-disposable (e.g. leather) gloves are to be thoroughly disinfected before and after each use or quarantined for 7 days or more.

    Physical distancing for service providers

    1. For visits requiring delivery only (e.g. feed/fertiliser) consider arranging the delivery or drop off details by phone beforehand to reduce the need for interaction with any farm staff.
    2. Ensure you minimise the time you need to be on farm (e.g. complete the task and go).

    Managing contact with “high touch” work surfaces

    1. Prevent multiple people handling tools and equipment during the task. If required, disinfect with an appropriate sanitising agent at each changeover if tools and equipment must be handled by separate people.
    2. Service providers should practice sound biosecurity, including disinfection of all tools, equipment and footwear and change into clean overalls between every job.
  • Use of face masks on farm

    Last updated 31 July 2020.

    Under COVID-19 regulations, all Victorians have now been instructed to wear a face covering when they leave home.

    In other areas of Australia, where there is a risk of community transmission of COVID-19 and physical distancing is not possible, face coverings are recommended.

    Wearing a mask can help protect you and those around you by providing an additional barrier to COVID-19.


    Are Victorians required to wear a face mask on farm?

    As of 31 July 2020, the Victorian Premier called for a common-sense approach and gave a number of situational examples of when a mask is required:

    YES

    • If you’re working on your farm alongside people who do not live in the same house as you, a mask IS REQUIRED.
    • Even with a mask, you should keep 1.5 metres distance between you and others.

    NO

    • If you’re working alone on your farm and not coming into contact with other people, a mask IS NOT needed.
    • If you’re working on your farm with people who live in the same house as you, a mask IS NOT needed.

    Are there exemptions?

    The recommendation to wear a face covering does not apply to children and people aged under 12 years, individuals with breathing difficulties, and those who have physical conditions that make it difficult to wear a face covering.

    See the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services website for details - Face coverings: regional Victoria.

    Do you need to wear a mask in a vehicle?

    If you are driving alone or only travelling with people from your household, you do not need to wear a face covering. You should put your face covering on before you leave your vehicle or if you wind down the window to talk to someone.

    If you are driving with people for work or people you don’t live with then you must wear a face covering unless you have a lawful excuse.

    See the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services website for details – Face masks FAQs.

    What kind of mask is appropriate?

    Find out about the use of different types of masks through the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services - Face coverings: regional Victoria.

    What about face masks for other areas of Australia?

    As of 31 July 2020, the Australian Department of Health states:

    People in NSW should consider wearing a face mask in situations where physical distancing is not possible.

    Wearing a mask can help protect you and those around you if you are in an area with community transmission, and physical distancing is not possible.

    Visit the website for details: Australian Department of Health – Should I wear a face mask in public?

    Protecting people on farm

    Whether you and/or your staff are wearing a face mask or not, there are other processes you can follow on farm to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 on farm. Please refer to the following resources:

    • Fast Facts for preventing the spread on farm
    • Preventing the spread of COVID-19 during milking
    • Preventing the spread of COVID-19 during service provider visits

    For a full list of resources, make sure you browse the Dairy Australia COVID-19 Directory pages.

  • Guidelines for milk collection

    Version 2, 1 April 2020

    This information is collated with the support of Dairy Australia, Milk Companies and Transport Companies and is consistent with relevant risk management protocols and public health advice, particularly relating to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of all in milk collection and delivery. In continuing to navigate the COVID-19 outbreak, the safety of all, working across the dairy supply chain, is of paramount importance.

    The following information is also available to be downloaded as a PDF - Guidelines for farm milk collection v.2, 1 April 2020

    You can also download the Milk pick up procedures poster to display around your farm as a reminder of your COVID-19 protocols.

    1. GENERAL PROCEDURES assuming reliable long-term supply of disposable gloves

    TANKER OPERATORS

    • Use disposable gloves when you arrive at each farm and dispose of them on leaving farm. Farmers are to provide an open top bin for discarded gloves.
    • Ensure antibacterial spray or wipes are in each truck, at farm pickup point and at tanker bay.
    • Wipe down all hand contact surfaces and touch points prior to leaving each farm and at the end of your work shift:
      On Farm – Door handles, vat, manual valves, milk vat and CIP control panels, etc– wherever hands contact surfaces, eg milk silo ladder handrails, not steps
      On Tanker - Steering wheel, controls, esky handles, all touch points
      At Factory – Connections, hoses, valves, pump and CIP control panels, etc

    FARMERS

    • Completely avoid congregating.
    • Maintain a distance from others of no less than 1.5 metres.
    • Sanitise vat room door handles, vat hardware, taps, hoses and wash control equipment used at the end of each milking.
    • The entire farm team should stay isolated from the tanker operator– be absent from the milking shed/dairy when tanker pick-up is occurring.
    • Farmers are to provide an open top bin for discarded gloves and wipes. 

    2. GENERAL PROCEDURES adjusted due to the impending short supply of disposable gloves and wipes

    TANKER OPERATORS

    • Use hand sanitiser when you arrive on farm and at the end of the pick-up process.
    • Ensure antibacterial spray or wipes are in each truck, at farm pickup point and at tanker bay.
    • Wipe down all hand contact surfaces and touch points prior to leaving each farm and at the end of your work shift:
      On Farm – Door handles, vat, manual valves, milk vat and CIP control panels, etc– wherever hands contact surfaces, eg milk silo ladder handrails, not steps
      On Tanker - Steering wheel, controls, esky handles, all touch points
      At Factory – Connections, hoses, valves, pump and CIP control panels, etc

    FARMERS

    • Completely avoid congregating.
    • Maintain a distance from others of no less than 1.5 metres.
    • Sanitise vat room door handles, vat hardware, taps, hoses and wash control equipment used at the end of each milking.
    • The entire farm team should stay isolated from the tanker operator– be absent from the milking shed/dairy when tanker pick-up is occurring.
    • Farmers are to provide an open top bin for discarded gloves and wipes. 

    Note: Some farmers may provide milking gloves and/or hand sanitiser, and request Tanker Operators to use them as part of their On-Farm Standard Operating Procedures – open top bin should be provided for disposal.

    3. PROCEDURES if farm has declared they may be at higher risk of COVID-19 transmission

    Higher risk includes:

    • Any member of the farm team recently returned from overseas,
    • Any member of the farm team self-isolating if feeling unwell or with cold and flu symptoms,
    • Any member of the farm team self-isolating while awaiting a COVID-19 test result,
    • Any member of the farm team who has tested positive to COVID-19.

    TANKER OPERATORS

    • Use disposable gloves when you arrive at each farm and dispose of them on leaving farm. Farmers are to provide an open top bin for discarded gloves.
    • Ensure antibacterial spray or wipes are in each truck, at farm pickup point and at tanker bay.
    • Spray/wipe all hand contact surfaces and touch points prior to leaving each farm and at the end of your work shift.
      On Farm – Door handles, vat, manual valves, milk vat and CIP control panels, etc– wherever hands contact surfaces, eg milk silo ladder handrails, not steps
      On Tanker - Steering wheel, controls, esky handles, all touch points
      At Factory – Connections, hoses, valves, pump and CIP control panels, etc

    FARMERS

    • Alert milk collection through emergency phone number if in high risk
    • Completely avoid congregating.
    • Maintain a distance from others of no less than 1.5 metres.
    • Sanitise vat room door handles, vat hardware, taps, hoses and wash control equipment used at the end of each milking.
    • The entire farm team should stay isolated from the tanker operator.
    • Be absent from the milking shed/dairy when tanker pick-up is occurring.
    • Farmers are to provide an open top bin for discarded gloves and wipes.

  • COVID 19 Fast facts for preventing the spread on farm 7April2020

    (01 September 2020)
    PDF,252.55 KB
  • COVID 19 Preventing the spread during milking 27March2020

    (01 September 2020)
    PDF,207.22 KB
  • COVID 19 Checklist for disinfecting the dairy 9april2020

    (01 September 2020)
    PDF,40.95 KB
  • COVID 19 Physical distancing for service providers on farm 27March2020

    (01 September 2020)
    PDF,158.41 KB
  • COVID 19 Quick checklist for farms 16April2020

    (01 September 2020)
    PDF,183.56 KB
  • COVID 19 Mitigating the risk for business owners 7May2020

    (01 September 2020)
    PDF,47.41 KB

Impact on-farm 

  • Disinfecting the dairy

    Published: 26 March 2020

    Reducing the spread of COVID-19 on or off your dairy farm involves many considerations. Very regular sanitation of shared touch points and equipment in the dairy and around the farm is one of these measures.

    Shared touch points

    Common shared touch points to consider sanitising in the dairy include:

    • Door handles and light switches
    • Vat control pad, connection points, outlet taps,
      hose taps, lid, sight glass, agitator switch,
      ladder rails
    • Vacuum pump switch
    • Wash system controls
    • Filter cannister
    • Pens and writing surfaces
    • Shared milking aprons, sleeves, glove boxes
    • Gates, latches and handrails
    • Milk tubes, clusters, teat disinfection equipment
    • Taps and hoses
    • Cupboard and fridge handles

    Cleaning and disinfection (surfaces and hands)

    Cleaning is an essential part of disinfection as organic matter (dirt, faeces etc) can inactivate most disinfectants.

    Where possible wear disposable gloves, or gloves that can be cleaned, when conducting cleaning tasks.

    Clean frequently touched hard surfaces routinely with detergent and water. Wipe the cleaned area using paper towels/disposable cloth or leave to air dry

    Soap and water should be used for hand hygiene when hands are visibly soiled. Alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water can be used when hands are visibly clean but have been contaminated from contact with environmental surfaces

    Preparation of disinfectant solution

    Select a disinfectant where the manufacturer claims antiviral activity (on label).

    Gloves should be worn when handling and preparing disinfectant solutions.

    Protective eye wear should be worn to protect against splashing.

    Always follow the label; use detergents and disinfectants as per the manufacturer’s instructions, including recommended mixing rates.

    Mix up fresh solution for each use where possible.

    In the face of disinfectant shortages, a 70% alcohol solution can be made by combining seven parts methylated spirits with three parts water.

    Food safety considerations

      All chemicals used in the dairy must be APVMA approved and used according to label directions (this means household cleaners such as bleach should not be used in the dairy). Many milk processors have requirements that Quaternary Ammonium Compounds (QACs) (e.g. benzalkonium chloride) and Nonylphenol Ethoxylates (NPEs) can not be used on milk contact surfaces.

    If you are unsure about a particular product, contact your milk processor/factory field officer.

    Also refer on this page to 

    • Farm biosecurity during
    • Social distancing during milking
    • Milk collection guidelines

    Below are resources from health.gov.au.

Downloads

  • COVID 19 Managing remote stock 3April2020

    (01 September 2020)
    PDF,110.14 KB
  • COVID 19 Farm set up to prevent the spread 16April2020

    (01 September 2020)
    PDF,197 KB
  • COVID 19 Managing calf rearing 22April2020

    (01 September 2020)
    PDF,114.08 KB
  • COVID 19 Managing calf rearing poster

    (01 September 2020)
    PDF,51.04 KB
  • COVID 19 Planning for surplus calves 31March2020

    (01 September 2020)
    PDF,118.2 KB
  • COVID 19 Dairy farm biosecurity

    (01 September 2020)
    PDF,131.57 KB

Foundational technical information

  • COVID 19 Farm Safety Panel Principles to control risk 7April2020

    (01 September 2020)
    PDF,191.99 KB
  • COVID 19 Farm Safety Panel Agricultural Communities 24May2020

    (01 September 2020)
    PDF,253.31 KB

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