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Construction and Infrastructure update: New Workplace Directions for the construction industry during COVID-19 State of Disaster

Aug 6, 2020

Overnight, the Victorian Government published a number of Directions relevant to the construction industry, in addition to the Permitted Work Premises Schedule, arising from the declared ‘State of Disaster’ earlier this week.

Provided below are links to the Directions, and the Permitted Work Premises Schedule which should be read in conjunction with the Directions, published on the Department of Health and Human Services website.

While construction is currently listed as a permitted work premises, it is anticipated this will change from 11:59 pm on 7 August 2020 as announced earlier this week by Premier Daniel Andrews.

Specific Directions in relation to the construction industry restrictions should be published and available on Saturday morning, where the Chief Health Officer has been publishing these Directions the night before they are to be implemented. As noted above, the construction industry specific restrictions come into effect from 11.59 pm, Friday 7 August. Further clarification should come available once Directions relating to the ‘scaled-back’ industry requirements are made available.

Working across multiple sites – what employers need to know

In accordance with clause 17 to 20 of the Workplace Directions, an employer must not require or permit a worker to perform work at more than one work premises, however this does not apply to the extent where it is not practicable to limit a worker to only one work premises. Tradespersons performing essential repairs is used as an example of what the exception may look like.

Where an employer requires someone to work across multiple sites, the employer must be able to demonstrate what systems have been put in place to minimise the number of workers working across multiple sites (for example, rosters).

While workers may work for two or more different employers, the worker however must provide a declaration to each employer advising them of same with details of each respective work place, and each employer must maintain a record of those workers who are working across multiple employers.

What employers need to do now

Importantly, all employers must read the Directions related to the Permitted Worker Scheme, Restricted Activities (Restricted Areas) and Workplace Directions carefully.

While substantial, these now form part of a Direction which are unambiguously legal requirements and, with the ‘State of Disaster’ being declared on Monday, the Victorian Government has the power to hand out substantial fines in relation to these Directions.

Contractors should start thinking about issuing notices of delay under contracts and in due course, extensions of time and if available, notice of change in legislative requirements, meeting time bars where applicable. It may be possible to wait for the expected clarification on Saturday.

These new measures must also be considered when negotiating and drafting construction contracts.

More information

For more information, or advice on specific issues arising from the Directions, please contact Damien Simonetti, Principal Lawyer, on (03) 8600 0708 or dsimonetti@kcllaw.com.au, or Jaimi Johanson, Lawyer, on (03) 8600 8839 or jjohanson@kcllaw.com.au.


This Construction and Infrastructure update was authored by Jaimi-lee Johanson, Lawyer.

Note: This update is a guide only and is not intended to constitute legal advice.