Information for Processors and Service Providers



What to do when an employee tests positive for COVID-19

This information was last updated 5 August 2020.

In the event of COVID-19 detection of an employee in a dairy manufacturing facility, the response will be a co-ordinated one involving the relevant food safety regulatory authority (SRA) in your state and the state Health Department (links provided below). This will involve immediate isolation of the impacted individual and a trace and track procedure to identify all at-risk people, including work colleagues, who may also be required to enter a period of isolation. The response procedure will be state specific, but where adequate measures exist to reduce the transfer of the virus, businesses would continue operation.

A suggested response plan would include:

  1. Immediately isolate the employee that is confirmed or suspected of being COVID-19 positive at home.
  2. Notify the appropriate SRA, State Department of Health, your WorkSafe authority and the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment at dairyeggsfish@agriculture.gov.au.
  3. Undertake rapid tracing of close contacts and ask them to self-isolate for 14 days.
  4. Undertake reactive cleaning protocols as directed by the appropriate authority.
  5. Review current workplace procedures for preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Safe Work Australia recommends taking the following measures:

(click on the image to download the PDF)

Restrictions, border closures and permits

National restrictions and border closures

The aim of this information is to provide guidance on the rulings of Australian national restrictions and state border closures, and provides a standard certification template that can be completed as proof you are an essential service.

Updated links for information on restrictions and border closures can be found in the Roadmap for restrictions - summary of jurisdictions (7 July 2020)

This Certification Template (last reviewed 7 July 2020) has been prepared by ADF, ADPF and Dairy Australia and will be continually updated to reflect the latest information and government advice.

For any queries or questions please email c19@dairyaustralia.com.au or call 1800 004 377.

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.

Processor employer responsibilities

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

  • Legal obligations for permanent full time or part time employees
  • Legal obligations for casual employees

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

Consider how to best manage your workforce during COVID-19 to protect your team's health and wellbeing. Think about your current and possible future workforce needs should circumstances change. Keeping the lines of communication open with your employees is especially important during challenging and unexpected situations like COVID-19.

Legal obligations for employers - permanent full time or part time employees
(last update: 3/4/2020)

  • 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.

    From 8 April 2020 award employees are entitled to take up to 2 weeks’ unpaid pandemic leave. This leave must commence before 30 June 2020.

    Notice and evidence requirements apply. Go to Schedule X of the Food Beverage and Tobacco Manufacturing Award 2010.

    See footnotes 1 to 6 below.

  • 3. When employee is sick

    Employees can access accrued personal/carer’s leave.

    If an employee contracts COVID19 they would be entitled to utilise their accrued personal/carer’s leave (sick leave). 

    From 8 April 2020 award employees are entitled to take up to 2 weeks’ unpaid pandemic leave. This leave must commence before 30 June 2020.  Notice and evidence requirements apply.  Go to Schedule X of the Food Beverage and Tobacco Manufacturing Award 2010.

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

    If you have an Enterprise Agreement you should check to see if there are any additional entitlements and/or requirements for the provision of evidence of the need for sick leave.

    If employees have used all of their personal/carer’s leave, see footnotes 1 to 6 below.

    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.

    From 8 April 2020 award employees are entitled to take up to 2 weeks’ unpaid pandemic leave. This leave must commence before 30 June 2020. Notice and evidence requirements apply. Go to Schedule X of the Food Beverage and Tobacco Manufacturing Award 2010.

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

    If you have an Enterprise Agreement you should check to see if there are any additional entitlements and/or requirements for the provision of evidence of the need for personal/carer’s leave and compassionate leave.

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

    If you have an Enterprise Agreement you should check to see if there are any additional entitlements and/or requirements for the provision of evidence of the need for personal/carer’s leave.

  • 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. From 8 April 2020 employers and award employees can agree in writing that the employee take annual leave at half pay. This leave must commence before 30 June 2020.  Go to Schedule X of the Food Beverage and Tobacco Manufacturing Award 2010 for further details.

Legal obligations for employers - casual employees
(last update: 3/4/2020)

  • 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.

    From 8 April 2020 award employees are entitled to take up to 2 weeks’ unpaid pandemic leave. This leave must commence before 30 June 2020. Notice and evidence requirements apply. 

    Go to Schedule X of the Food Beverage and Tobacco Manufacturing 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).

    From 8 April 2020 award employees are entitled to take up to 2 weeks’ unpaid pandemic leave. This leave must commence before 30 June 2020. Notice and evidence requirements apply. 

    Go to Schedule X of the Food Beverage and Tobacco Manufacturing Award 2010.

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

    If you have an Enterprise Agreement you should check to see if there are any additional entitlements and/or requirements for the provision of evidence of the need for sick leave.

    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.

    From 8 April 2020 award employees are entitled to take up to 2 weeks’ unpaid pandemic leave. This leave must commence before 30 June 2020. Notice and evidence requirements apply.  Go to Schedule X of the Food Beverage and Tobacco Manufacturing Award 2010.

    You are entitled to ask for a medical certificate as evidence of the need for the leave. If you have an Enterprise Agreement you should check to see if there are any additional entitlements and/or requirements for the provision of evidence of the need for personal/carer's 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”.

    If you have an Enterprise Agreement you should check to see if there are any additional entitlements and/or requirements for the provision of evidence of the need for personal/carer's leave.

    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

Disinfection and hygiene for processors

Cleaning workplaces to minimise the impact of COVID-19

In response to the urgency of the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, Sanikleen has developed free online training courses for preventative and reactive cleaning in workplace amenity areas. Dan Crozier explains the cleaning procedures, PPE and chemicals required in this video.

Preventing the spread of COVID-19

During service provider visits

  • 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.

  • COVID 19 Physical distancing for service providers on farm 27March2020

    (01 September 2020)
    PDF,158.41 KB
  • At your factory

    COVID-19 is a respiratory virus. It spreads in breath and when people cough and sneeze. It is a sticky virus that can survive on contaminated surfaces, including the skin, for some time. People become infected by breathing it in or by touching contaminated surfaces and then touching their face. Many infected people don’t show symptoms and it can spread quietly and quickly. Mild to moderate signs include fever, cough and increased effort to breathe. In severe cases, people can end up in intensive care in hospital and can die. Older members of the factory workforce and those with other health conditions are at much greater risk of a bad outcome if they become infected.

    Protect from high risk situations

    Identify anyone who may have been in high risk situations and ensure they have no contact with other people in the business.

    Protect older and vulnerable workers who are at greater risk and stop contact where possible: what jobs can they do where they won’t come into contact with others?

    Prevent contact between people

    Everyone can get sick with and spread COVID-19, including the young and healthy. This is a new virus: no one has immunity.

    Prevent exposure for everyone by:

    1. reducing the number of people at the factory at any one time;
    2. reducing contact between people when at the factory.1 Measures which ensure physical distancing and structured movements of staff and equipment will help maximise business continuity in the event of a positive case of COVID-192.

    Emphasise good personal hygiene practices to reduce the spread of droplets in the air and minimise the risk of contaminating surfaces.3

    Prevent contact with infected surfaces

    COVID-19 can’t multiply outside the body, but it can survive for several days on surfaces. Think about what surfaces are shared between people in your factory and how sharing can be stopped. Increase preventative cleaning protocols - particularly in shared amenity spaces and high traffic touch point areas - and consider a daily cleaning regime between shift changeovers if not already in place.


    [1] The Australian Industry Group has developed an excellent guideline to support manufacturers develop their own strategies to minimise contact between workers and general risks to the workforce. The US Department of Labor’s “Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19” is also very helpful.

    [2] It should be assumed that the affected staff member plus any personnel in close contact will be required to self-isolate. Known patterns of movement will support post-infection sanitation of the workplace and limit any potential downtime for disinfection.

    [3] COVID-19 is coated in a fatty membrane. Soaps are more effective than sanitisers at removing fats and washing for 20 seconds is important. Sanitiser is far better than not washing.

  • Principles for risk management of COVID-19 infection within manufacturing sites

    (07 September 2020)
    PDF,570.56 KB
  • 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.

Additional resources

Dairy Australia is continuing to identify and develop additional resources to support the Australian dairy processing sector manage the unprecedented challenges that the COVID-19 crisis has created.

Extending shelf-life of dairy products

Due to the rapid closure of domestic and international food service markets, many dairy processors are faced with excess stock that is likely to require extended storage.

The US Centre for Dairy Research has developed a number of resources to help dairy processors understand options for extending the shelf life of dairy products - including freezing and high pressure processing. These can be found on the Center for Dairy Research website.

Webinars

  • Australian government COVID-19 business stimulus initiatives

    By Andrew Ellem

    As of the 8th of April 2020, when this was presented, the Australian Government had released three tranches of stimulus response to the COVID-19 pandemic impacting Australian business and our community. The webinar walks participants through the current government’s stimulus package & assistance measures available for business. It discusses “touch points” for assistance and the best web sites to go to for clear and precise information. It also covers State based support initiatives and relevant business assistance resulting from the recent bushfires.

  • Transitioning to online sales for dairy manufacturers

    By Sam Penny

    In response to the 2020 COVID-19 crisis which has produced an exceptionally challenging business environment for SME dairy processors, Sam Penny shares his insights as owner of online dairy business Cheese Therapy to transition your dairy manufacturing business to an online model and sell direct to the consumer.

  • COVID 19 Stimulus packages

    (01 September 2020)
    PDF,141.22 KB

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