The spread of COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving crisis, and as the Australian Government develops its strategy on dealing with the pandemic, the hairdressing communities needs its own strategies on how best to facilitate operations, communicate with clients and adhere to workplace, health and safety (WH&S) obligations.

The Australian Hairdressing Council (AHC) has some guidelines for how to conduct business in this new reality. We will continue to update the industry with new information as the situation evolves.

“Your WH&S obligations require you to inform your employees about any health and safety issues in the workplace,” the AHC advised. “Since the COVID–19 may impact your employees’ health and safety, you should provide them regular updates. You can utilise the information released through the Department of Health’s or the World Health Organisation’s websites. You should consider taking this opportunity to refresh your employees’ memories of good hygiene practices and precautions.”

These precautions include re-training on hygiene policies, updated signage around handwashing, ensuring a surplus of sanitiser and hand wash in the salon, as well as paper towels, tissues, closed-bins, anti-bacterial wipes and displaying signage about coughing and sneezing etiquette, that is, into elbows and not hands.

Salons also need to request all employees to notify the business of their recent travel to an affected area since December 2019 and whether they are suffering or have suffered from some or all of the symptoms of COVID–19. Employees must not come into the salon if they are unwell and must use paid sick leave if available. Anyone experiencing symptoms must receive medical attention and medical clearance to return to the salon.

All employees must follow the government’s strict travel and quarantine instructions. Currently, two weeks of self-isolation is necessary for all returning international travellers and overseas travel of any kind is banned. In these cases, or if an employee is stuck overseas, the salon may rely on the stand down provisions of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).“Standing down employees is without pay; however, the business must show that the employee cannot be usefully employed due to circumstances that are outside its control,” the AHC said. “Before standing down employees without pay, alternatives should first be considered such as allowing the employee to work from home (if possible) or exercising annual leave.”

Communicating with your clients and employees is paramount in these unpredictable times. Share information of your proactive hygiene  education and care with clients on social media and other forms of marketing, and follow these rules to the letter. This is an unprecedented and complicated time for all sectors. AHC members can always reach out for help from the experts as they navigate these waters in terms of business, employment, legalities and more.

We’ll have more information on this developing crisis as it pertains to the salon industry over the coming weeks, until then be safe, wash your hands and take care of each other!

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