Businesses open during Victoria’s restrictions must have a COVID-19 Safe Plan

August 7, 2020
FCB Workplace Law

If your business is exempt from closing and is able to remain open throughout Victoria’s stage 4 lockdown restrictions, then there are specific requirements you must follow.

This article explores your obligations as an employer operating a business which will remain open throughout the 6-week lockdown period. The information provided in this article is current at the date of publication, however, given the fast pace at which the situation is evolving, businesses are strongly encouraged to monitor the Victorian Department of Health’s advice and our associated resources.

What are my obligations?

Under stage 4 restrictions, workplaces that remain open must:

  • have a COVID-19 Safe Plan in place that is regularly updated (unless you are a small business with fewer than 5 employees);
  • ensure that any workers that can work from home are able to do so;
  • collect records of all workers, subcontractors, customers and clients attending the work premises for 15 minutes or longer (certain exemptions will apply);
  • adhere to social distancing rules including one worker per four square metres of enclosed workspace or in shared areas;
  • unless an exemption applies, ensure that workers do not work across multiple sites, or for multiple employers;
  • ensure that workers are not exhibiting flu like symptoms – that is, workers cannot work if they are unwell and employers must not require workers with symptoms to work;
  • if a worker is unwell and attends the workplace, you must send them home and direct them to be tested. They must stay home until they have their result (employees may be able to access personal/carer’s leave during this period if they are considered unfit for work);
  • report any positive cases of coronavirus to DHHS, Worksafe, Health and Safety Representatives, and notify your workforce;
  • regularly clean your facilities, shared spaces and provide additional cleaning supplies; and
  • undertake risk assessments for cleaning and the potential closure of your workplace in certain situations.

What is a COVID Safe Plan?

Every workplace must have a COVID Safe Plan in order to protect staff, customers, visitors and to be prepared in the unfortunate instance that there is a confirmed COVID-19 case in the workplace.

The COVID Safe Plan must set out the following:

  • the process you have in place to keep records of all staff or visitors who attend the work premises (template workplace attendance register is attached to this article);
  • actions you are taking to prevent the introduction of COVID-19 in your workplace;
  • the level of personal protective equipment required for your workforce; and
  • how you will prepare for and respond to a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 in your workplace.
Click here for a COVID Safe Plan and Template

Workplaces operating throughout the six-week lockdown period have until 11:59pm Friday 7 August 2020 to prepare their COVID Safe Plan. Failure to implement such plan may result in an on the spot fine of up $9913 and up to $20000 for serious offences. Whilst you do not have to lodge your COVID Safe Plan with the Victorian Government, you may be required to provide your COVID Safe Plan to the Department of Health and Human Services Victoria or WorkSafe upon request or in the event of a confirmed positive case at your workplace. There will also be random business spot checks for COVID Safe Plans.

High Risk COVID Safe Plan

The following industries are considered “higher-risk” and, in addition to satisfying the Universal COVID Safe Plan obligations, they must also develop a High Risk COVID Safe Plan which contains enhanced provisions:

  • construction;
  • warehousing;
  • distribution centres;
  • meat processing;
  • cold storage; and
  • aged care.

If your business has a coronavirus-related query, please contact the team at FCB Group.