As of Thursday 6 August, the Permitted Worker Scheme commences in Victoria. Workplaces are now required to be closed unless the workplace is carrying out permitted activities or all employees are working from home.

Worker Permits to be issued by employers

Employers that require workers on-site are required to issue a worker permit. Employees must have their permit with them at work and while travelling to and from work.

Penalties of nearly $20,000 for individuals and $100,000 for businesses apply for worker permits issued to workers who do not meet the requirements of the Permitted Worker Scheme or breach the scheme.

Employers can issue a worker permit to their employee if:

  • the organisation is on the list of permitted activities;
  • the employee is working in an approved category for on-site work;
  • the employee cannot work from home;
  • the employer has a Covid-19 Safe Plan in place; and
  • the employee is not required to be self-isolating due to a positive coronavirus test or being a close contact of a positive coronavirus case.

The Victorian Government has issued template worker permits to assist employers in rolling out the work permits as the Permitted Worker Scheme commences. An authorised person, such as CEO, HR Manager or Operation Manager must sign the worker permit, either electronically or in hard copy and is accountable for the details they provide and may be contacted by Victoria Police or other enforcement agencies to confirm the details.

Covid-Safe Plans

As the Permitted Worker Scheme commences, all open businesses and services must have a Covid-Safe Plan in place by 11.59pm on 7 August 2020. These plans focus on safety (including appropriate PPE in the workforce, prevention of Covid-19 into the workplace and response in the event of a case of Covid-19 linked to the workplace.

Certain industries, including construction, warehousing and distribution will require a high-risk Covid-Safe Plan, containing stricter requirements including reduced staff and medical-level PPE.

The Victorian Government has issued template Covid-Safe Plans and guidance for employer in developing a Covid-Safe Plan.

Jobkeeper Extension and eligibility changes

The Victorian lockdown has also resulted in the Federal Government easing eligibility thresholds for JobKeeper, recognising the significant impact when stage 4 lockdowns will have on businesses.

Businesses will now be eligible for JobKeeper in the December quarter, if they meet the downturn requirements for the September quarter, rather than both the June and September quarter as was proposed in the previous plans.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.