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The safety and wellbeing of our clients and employees are of the utmost importance to us  so we, like many businesses, are taking precautionary measures to minimise the potential risks of COVID-19.

It's an evolving situation so we will continue to update our response and this page to reflect the latest knowledge, expert advice and best practice in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Frequently asked client and employee questions

How prepared is the firm generally?

To ensure we can maintain a quality of continuous service to our clients, to protect the wellbeing of our staff, and to minimise the damage or impact that any unexpected event or emergency could have on our normal business operations, we have a comprehensive Crisis Management Plan (CMP), Business continuity plans (BCPs), and IT Disaster Recovery Plan.

The plans are reviewed every six months and tested at least annually. The firm's planning takes into account our critical business activities, key dependencies and likely scenarios including loss of personnel, infrastructure, premises and technology interruption.

The firm has established a Crisis Management Teams and Alternate Crisis Management Teams. These teams have been trained in the firm's Crisis Management Protocols as set in the CMP.

In relation to the current Covid-19 situation the firm also has a:

  • Pandemic Policy; and
  • Critical Incident Protocol for Influenza.

We are communicating regularly with our partners and employees (including those on secondment) via email and also through our SMS alerting function, and established an intranet site for COVID-19 so that they can access up-to-date, accurate and relevant information on COVID-19.

How robust is the firm's technology and work from home capability?

Our IT systems can support all of our partners and lawyers working from home if necessary. We have additional resources available to support teleconferencing and videoconferencing requirements for remote working. We are ensuring that we maintain our high levels of cyber security awareness in line with our ISO27001 certification while working remotely.

On 5-6 March we directed our Sydney partners and employees to work from home. We successfully supported over 500 employees working remotely using a combination of VPN and Virtual Desktops.

From Monday 16 March, we have begun encouraging all partners and employees to work remotely to the maximum extent possible.  Reducing the number of people we have on-site in our offices at any one time will play an important role in helping with social distancing.

What about printing and dealing with original documents?

We have also considered practical matters such as printing documents and obtaining original documents from safe custody. While we think it likely that we will have a skeleton staff in an office that can attend to such matters we also have contingencies in place such as:

  • Safe custody documents: These are retrieved online and so can be transacted from any location. These would then need to be collected and delivered.
  • Printing documents: Documents required to be printed can be printed in the office and then delivered to our people at their home. We also have a third party service provider who is able to print documents for the firm.

What additional precautions is the firm taking to minimise COVID-19 risks?

Travel

We have suspended all international travel.  Up until that point we had required all partners and employees returning from overseas to self-isolate for a minimum of 14 days - consistent with Australian Government advice.

We have also suspended all work-related domestic travel. 

Events and catering

We have cancelled all client events and events we were due to host in any of our offices.  We will review the situation in line with Australian Government guidelines. 

While our offices remain open, we are encouraging our partners and employees to work from home as far as possible, and to limit internal events as far as possible.

 

Meeting guidelines

We are asking all partners and employees to consider convening meetings by telephone or VC and to make appropriate inquiries with clients who may have travelled internationally in the last 14 days or have been exposed to COVID-19. 

We have implemented meeting guidelines which includes requiring visitors to our offices to declare if they have returned from international travel in the last 14 days and whether they have come into contact with anyone who has tested positive to COVID-19. If you experience symptoms of COVID-19 following a visit to any of the Clayton Utz office, please advise your usual Clayton Utz contact.

We are encouraging attendees at meetings not to shake hands. We are also providing hand sanitiser in common areas across office floors and at entry/exit points of our building foyers.

Contractors and suppliers

All contractors coming on site are required to log into the firm's contractor management systems and are required to declare whether or not they have:

  • visited a country assessed by the Australian Government as having a High or Moderate risk for COVID-19 in the last 14 days; and
  • come into contact with anyone who has tested positive to COVID-19.

If so, the contractor is not allowed to enter our premises.

Health & wellbeing / personal hygiene

We have sought independent medical advice to guide the firm's response.

We are bringing forward the firm's flu vaccination program available earlier this year. While the flu vaccination does not prevent COVID-19, it does help our employees to maintain their general health and wellness.

We have notified our EAP service provider of the events in Sydney on 5-6 March. It is monitoring for, and will report on, any increases or trends in calls. We are holding internal meetings (via videoconference) on the mental health impacts of COVID-19.

We have provided increased hand sanitiser and hand washing products, as well as putting up posters in all of our offices on the importance of personal hygiene.

Any of our partners and employees who are not feeling well and/or are experiencing cold or flu symptoms have been directed not to attend the office.