State – Victoria

Resources to Help Navigate Stage Four Restrictions

As everyone is aware, Melbourne is now subject to Stage 4 COVID-19 restrictions, which impose significant responsibilities on businesses.

As of 11.59pm on Wednesday 5 August, workplaces in Melbourne MUST be closed unless:

All Victorians are required to work from home, except where this is not practicable. Sole operators can continue to operate, if they do not have contact with the public, or with people other than those persons living in their primary household.

Permitted Work Premises (As at 5 August 2020)

mployers for Permitted Work Premises are only permitted to have employees on-site if it is not reasonably practicable for the employee to work from home and the employer and employee comply with the Directions currently in force, including the Workplace Directions and the Permitted Worker Permit Scheme Directions.

Where a Permitted Work Premises is able to operate on-site, additional restrictions may apply as listed below and in the Directions.

To avoid doubt, the following are Permitted Work Premises in the following circumstances:

  • Ancillary and support businesses are able to open on-site to ensure the necessary production, supply, manufacture, repair, maintenance, cleaning, security, wholesale, distribution, transportation or sale of equipment, goods or services required for the operations of a Permitted Work Premises, or for Closed Work Premises where there are safety or environmental obligations. The business cannot operate on-site for any other purpose.
  • Services and ancillary services that relate to the COVID-19 health response are Permitted Work Premises.
  • Services connected with animal health, husbandry or welfare, including the RSPCA, are Permitted Work Premises.
  • Union/peak body/employer organisation officials attending a worksite as permitted by law or for Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) advice is permitted.

‘Permitted Work Premises’ for the purposes of the Restricted Activity Directions (Restricted Areas) (No 6), effective as at 5 August 2020 from 11:59pm (version 1.0)

Permitted Worker Permit Scheme

As an employer, if you require employees to attend a work site, you must provide them with a Permitted Worker Permit.

Penalties of up of $19,826 for individuals and $99,132 for businesses will apply to employers who issue worker permits to employees who do not meet the requirements of the worker permit scheme (or who breach the scheme requirements).

The employee must carry a copy of the Permit with them at all times on the way to and from work, and while on-site. There are on the spot fines of $1,652 for individuals and $9,913 for businesses for not carrying the worker permit when travelling to and from work.

You can only issue a work permit to an employee if:

  • Your business is on the list of permitted activities;
  • The employee is working in an approved category for onsite work; and
  • The employee can’t work from home.

How to Issue a Worker Permit

To issue a permit:

  1. Download the form and complete all details
  2. Print and sign or sign it electronically
  3. Email or text the permit to the employee and ask them to sign it.

Employees must carry the permit and photo ID when travelling to and from the workplace.

Creating a COVID Safe Plan

If you are one of the certain services and industries that is able to remain open, you are required by law to have a COVID Safe Plan. You cannot issue a Worker Permit without one.

Your COVID Safe Plan must be in place by 11.59pm on Friday 7 August, and must set out:

  • Your actions to help prevent the introduction of coronavirus (COVID-19) in your workplace
  • The level of face-covering or personal protective equipment (PPE) required for your workforce
  • How you will prepare for, and respond to, a suspected or confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19) in your workplace
  • This plan must demonstrate how you will meet all of the requirements set out by the Victorian Government. Some higher-risk industries or workplaces have additional requirements of employers and employees.

The Victorian State Government has created Resources to help draft a COVID Safe Plan:

New OH&S Obligations for Employers

From 28 July 2020, all Victorian employers are required to notify WorkSafe Victoria when they become aware that an employee or independent contractor has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

As part of these regulations, an employer or self-employed person must immediately notify WorkSafe if:

  • They become aware that an employee or independent contractor (or any employee of the independent contractor) has a positive COVID-19 diagnosis and has attended the workplace in the infectious period; or
  • A self-employed person has a positive COVID-19 diagnosis and has attended the workplace in the infectious period.

The infectious period is the period from 14 days prior to receiving the positive test, until clearance from isolation has been given.

Failure to notify WorkSafe will attract a penalty of up to $39,652 for individuals and $198,264 for a business.

Economic Survival Package

The Victorian Government has established an economic survival package to support Victorian businesses and workers through the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The $1.7 billion Economic Survival Package complements the work of the Federal Government. The package includes the following key programs:

Payroll Tax Refund

Businesses with annual taxable wages up to $3 million will have their payroll tax for the 2019-20 financial year waived. This will support 24,000 businesses and up to 400,000 workers. The State Revenue Office will directly contact eligible businesses to reimburse them for payroll tax already paid in the financial year. Eligible businesses must continue to lodge returns but do not need to make further payments for this financial year. These businesses can also defer paying payroll tax for the first quarter of the 2020-2021 financial year. More information about the administration of these relief measures will be sent directly to eligible businesses. Visit www.sro.vic.gov.au

Business Support Fund

The $500 million Business Support Fund will support the hardest hit sectors, including hospitality, tourism, accommodation, arts and entertainment, and retail. The Government will work with the Victorian Chamber, Australian Hotels Association and Australian Industry Group to deliver the Fund, which will help these businesses – which may not be eligible for payroll tax refunds due to their size – survive and keep people in work. Visit www.business.vic.gov.au

Working for Victoria Fund

Under the $500 million Working for Victoria Fund, displaced workers will be eligible to apply for different types of work. This presents opportunities for paid work and an opportunity to contribute to Victoria’s ability to manage this event and support the community. Some displaced workers will have skills that can be readily transferred to new roles. The Government can also assist skills development or help people in obtaining immediate accreditation to commence work. The Government will work across the public sector, local government, the not-for-profit sector and key private sector employers to facilitate job matching. Visit  www.vic.gov.au/workingforvictoria

Land Tax Deferral

Landowners that have at least one nonresidential property and total taxable landholdings below $1million have the option of deferring their 2020 land tax payment until after 31 December 2020. The State Revenue Office will contact all taxpayers who are eligible for this deferral. Visit www.sro.vic.gov.au

Fast Tracking Outstanding Supplier Invoices

The Government will pay all outstanding supplier invoices within five business days –releasing up to $750 million into the economy earlier. The private sector is urged to do the same where possible.

Rent Relief for Commercial Tenants in Government Buildings

The Government will work directly with commercial tenants in government buildings who can apply for rent relief. Private landlords are also being encouraged to provide rent relief or holidays to help businesses.

Business Victoria Hotline

Businesses across the state can now access information on dealing with COVID-19 by calling the Business Victoria hotline on 13 22 15. For further information, visit:
business.vic.gov.au

Other Resources

Victoria State Government Website

WorkSafe Victoria