NatRoad has received many inquiries from members whose workers do not meet the strict criteria for “essential worker” to obtain a dedicated “F” essential worker Queensland border pass. Members operating in specialty areas of the industry, such as those with agricultural operations, may meet the criteria for “special workers”.
Whilst Border Restrictions Direction (No.12) came into effect from 20 August 2020, Queensland Health has only recently released the process and associated templates to assess specialist worker applications to enter Queensland.
Definition of “specialist worker”
A specialist worker is someone who is required to provide a service in the following industries or sectors, essential to the continuing running of Queensland:
- Construction, including construction of transport infrastructure;
- Resources, critical resources sector employees only;
- Agribusiness or commercial fishing but not a seasonal worker. Seasonal workers can move to Queensland as a new resident if they meet the requirements for new residents;
- Emergency services;
- Infrastructure, or utilities for critical for government or government-funded services. For example, continuity of electricity and power, telecommunications, data, critical infrastructure, water supply, sewerage, sanitation and waste and recycling management, petroleum, gas mining and resource operations and critical agricultural operations necessary to maintain food supply.
The following requirements need to be met by specialist workers:
- The services can’t be obtained in Queensland;
- The services are provided without delay;
- The person needs to be physically present in Queensland to complete the duty; and
- The company or service provider needs to have a plan in place that follows the requirements specified by the Chief Health Officer to manage stopping the spread of COVID-19 amongst its employees and the community.
Applications can be made via the Exemption Portal: https://healthserviceportal.health.qld.gov.au/hdsp.
Applications must be submitted by the employer or entity that the specialist worker is working/contracting for with evidence of the following:
- A written explanation of the essential activity the specialist worker is to enter Queensland for;
- Documentation that demonstrates why this service is critical to Queensland. It must detail:
- why these services cannot be obtained in Queensland
- why these services must be provided without delay
- why the specialist worker must be physically present in Queensland to provide the service or perform the duty
- the employer’s plan to manage preventing the transmission of COVID-19 amongst other employees and the community. The plan must comply with the requirements specified by the Chief Health Officer and can be downloaded from the border restrictions webpage.
NatRoad has been advised that all applications will be assessed with very strict criteria to comply with the Intent of the Direction, that is to stop COVID-19 transmission into Queensland from hotspots. Consequently, an application to enter Queensland will only be approved in very limited cases.
Employers are strongly encouraged to have resourcing and workforce plans in place and not rely on exemptions being granted.
If you have a staff member (Queensland resident) leaving Queensland to perform specialist work in a declared hotspot, please note that on return to Queensland, the staff will be required to undertake 14 days mandatory quarantine in a government nominated accommodation at their own cost.
If you are returning to Queensland to undertake an essential activity in Queensland, you will need to apply to be considered as a specialist worker and may be required to quarantine.
134 COVID (134 268) has been set up to assist with fast responses to queries.