Re-imposing WFH Would Impede Return-To-Office
AUSTRALIA – Major business groups insists that the country’s rebounding economy would be impacted if the government would re-introduce work-from-home (WFH) orders and indoor mask mandates, reported Commercial Real Estate on Monday evening (11 July, SGT).
Although no state or territory government is currently mulling a return of such COVID-related restrictions, they are not ruling these out if the COVID-19 deteriorates.
The Australian Industry Group’s (Ai Group) Victorian Head Tim Piper thinks a return to a more remote work arrangement at this point, particularly if it will be mandated, would impede the progress that many companies have made since returning to in-office work early this year.
“The suggestion undermines the really good effort that employers and employees have made since Omicron really hit us in January,” he added.
Many huge employers already permit hybrid work arrangements with workers reporting to the office during some workdays. However, health organisations like the Australian Medical Association are requesting more restrictive measures like requiring the wearing of masks indoors to help prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed.
On 8 July, the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) warned against a new wave of infections fuelled by the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants. AHPPC members include the Chief Health Officers from Australian states and territories.
The group expects this new wave to “lead to a substantial increase in infections, hospitalisations and deaths at a time when Australia’s communities and health systems are already under strain.”
As such, AHPPC is urging for higher vaccination rates and asked companies to review their occupational health and safety risks, on top of considering “the feasibility of some employees working from home and support employees to take leave when sick”.
The advice came amid a significant increase in COVID-19 cases. Victoria saw 7,934 new cases on Sunday, while New South Wales (NSW) recorded 8,670 new cases. In total, there are over 300,000 active cases across the country and hundreds of people are passing away each week due to this illness.