On 3 August 2020, further restrictions on metropolitan Melbourne workplaces were announced by the Victorian Government.
As published by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the ‘Guide for business — stage 4 restrictions‘ outlines the industry restrictions including detailed industry specific closures.
These industry closures will take effect from 11:59 pm on Wednesday 5 August, 2020.
Employers should consult this document, as well as any further Directions by the Public Health Commander to determine how the restrictions will affect their workplace and workforce, and seek legal advice if unclear.
Helpfully, businesses impacted for the first time by Government restrictions or businesses that have not previously accessed the JobKeeper scheme can apply now.
Additionally, through the Victorian Government’s Business Support Fund, businesses in regional Victoria can apply for a $5,000 grant while those in Melbourne and Mitchell Shire can apply for up to $10,000 in recognition of longer restrictions.
Workplaces continuing to operate on-site — permits required for employees leaving their homes for work
Importantly, for businesses and industry that are permitted to be open for on-site work under the stage 4 lock-down restrictions, Victorians who are allowed to work on-site and who leave their homes for work will now be required to show permits if pulled over by police. This will apply to private sector businesses that are permitted to be open for on-site work where there is not an officially recognised form of identification, whereas many key government workers such as nurses and police will be able to show their existing IDs.
Employers allowed to operate on-site must fill out and execute a copy of the Permitted Worker Permit, which is available here, and provide it to employees who are allowed to and will work on-site as soon as possible. Those employees should carry a copy of the permit when attending on-site work to show to police if required.
It has been announced that under the scheme, employers face penalties of up to $99,132 for businesses and up to $19,826 for individuals, for breaching requirements including making false or misleading statements on the form.
It has also been announced that on-the-spot fines will also be handed out to individuals (up to $1652) and businesses (up to $9913) for breaches, including for failure to carry a worker permit when travelling to and from work.
All private sector businesses that are permitted to remain open to operate on-site under stage 4 restrictions (including those that remain open with limitations) must ensure that their on-site employees are provided with a Permitted Worker Permit in the form available here.
What does this mean for Victorian employers?
By reviewing the ‘Guide for business – stage 4 restrictions’, employers should first determine whether their workplace is one which is:
- closed (for onsite work);
- open (for on-site work) with a COVID Safe Plan; or
- permitted to carry out restricted operations or industry specific obligations.
Effective 11:59 pm on Wednesday 5 August 2020, employees who are permitted to work on-site under the stage 4 shutdowns must carry a signed Permitted Worker Permit from their employer when leaving the house for work. The form is now available on the Department of Justice and Community Service website, alternatively you can download it here.
All businesses that remain open in metropolitan Melbourne must implement a COVID Safe Plan by 11.59 pm on Friday 7 August, 2020.
Employers should also consider how the stage 4 restrictions are likely to affect their business and what financial and/or legal options they might make use of to increase their viability — whether that be through government assistance such as JobKeeper, lawful stand down or some other arrangement under legislation or industrial instrument.
For more information on the Victorian stage 4 restrictions and requirements, please contact a member of our Employment and Workplace Relations team on (03) 8600 8888.
Note: This update is a guide only and is not intended to constitute legal advice.