Shire's business continuity measure to mitigate future COVID19 impacts
Shire of Manjimup implements innovative strategic business continuity measure to mitigate future COVID-19 impacts.
Earlier this week the Shire of Manjimup activated a strategic business continuity program to prepare the organisation for future local impacts of COVID-19. This initiative is another in a growing list of innovative approaches by the Shire to address COVID-19 including the early risk identification and strategy adaptation when COVID-19 first appeared in Western Australia in 2020, securing significant financial hardship funding through Lotterywest and managing a program to distribute the funding to those in need in the community, and more recently partnering with the Western Australian Country Health Service by advocating strongly for the State to establish a Pfizer vaccination clinic in Manjimup and then supporting this by providing exclusive use of the Manjimup Town Hall at no cost.
Calling on his qualifications and substantial experience in public health, the Shire’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr Andrew Campbell said “COVID-19 will inevitably arrive in our community either sooner through unintentional transmission from an infected source or later ultimately when interstate or international border restrictions are lifted in Western Australia. The Shire of Manjimup has been very fortunate to be COVID-19 free so far but this will undoubtedly change in the near to medium future and as an organisation we need to be fully prepared for the anticipated serious impact.”
The new non-compulsory, opt-in program is offering Shire employees a one off payment of between $300 and $500 (depending on employment tenure) if they voluntarily produce a COVID-19 vaccination certificate before 1 February 2022. In fairness, special consideration will also be given to anyone who is prevented from being vaccinated against COVID-19 because of current medical conditions. Mr Campbell added “Council employs me to operate and risk manage our $43M per annum business and COVID-19 is an extremely concerning business risk through employee absenteeism from illness, potentially resulting in major disruption to our operational programs and interaction with our community generally. Our rolling six year average for our organisation sponsored influenza vaccination program has been only 30% of employees who take up the vaccination opportunity and if those sort of numbers translate to COVID-19 vaccination rates our business will be absolutely decimated when COVID-19 arrives locally in our community.”
Recent COVID-19 vaccination research suggests that vaccinations can, but may not necessarily, prevent people from contracting COVID-19 however for most people a full vaccination will significantly lessen and shorten symptoms and as a result reduce transmissibility. Mr Campbell said “The more employees that get vaccinated, the less lost time will be incurred and this means the less disruption to our programs. I consider the financial outlay of the program to be a type of self-insurance for our organisation and if we do not do something like this, the outcome will cost us so much more in the future when COVID-19 eventually strikes.”
The cost is expected to be a maximum of $60,000, but is likely to be considerably less dependent on the take up by employees, and this was already set aside in the Shire’s 2021/22 budget for employee costs. Mr Campbell went on further to say “We have about 182 employees in total representing 125 FTE’s. If the incentive encourages 30 or more vaccine hesitant employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 it is likely to save our business and ratepayers many hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost time, allow us to continue operational programs without disruption, and protect vulnerable people in our community that we provide key frontline services to such as Home and Community Care clients. Incentivising our employees will create enormous value for our business and community when the grim reality of COVID-19 impacts locally.”
An added advantage of the program is that the Shire will gain a detailed understanding of which employees are vaccinated against COVID-19 and which employees are not. Mr Campbell further added “In the complex and often murky world of what private medical information organisations can request from their employees, having a COVID-19 vaccination record of current employees will provide critical information to inform future business decisions to ensure any potential disruption to our programs resulting from the impacts of COVID-19 can be projected and addressed early.”
Finally Mr Campbell called on local business to follow the Shire’s lead and try and address business continuity in preparation for future COVID-19 impacts, “When this virus inevitably arrives in our community, every employer should have their own plans and strategies in place. The new Shire program is exclusively about business continuity through risk mitigation and I would strongly encourage everyone to proactively look at their organisations right now as to what may or may not work for them as if these considerations are left until COVID-19 arrives locally, it will probably be far too late to react and your business may suffer significantly as a consequence.”
Authorised by Andrew Campbell, Chief Executive Officer
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Contact for comment: Andrew Campbell, Chief Executive Officer
Contact: (08) 9771 7777