Employers must remain vigilant during Victoria’s fourth lockdown

Published May 27, 2021 (last updated January 25, 2022) -
Victorian Lockdown 4

Victorian business owners must ensure they are aware of their obligations as the state enters a seven-day ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown from 11:59PM tonight, according to Employsure, Australia’s largest workplace relations advisor.

A growing number of COVD-19 cases have forced the government to put the state back into lockdown. As a result, a range of businesses will need to close, or operate in a limited capacity, as health authorities continue contact tracing.

Under the restrictions, essential shops like supermarkets, food stores, bottle shops, banks, petrol stations and pharmacies can remain open. Cafes, pubs, and restaurants must switch to take-away only, and non-essential retail may only open for click and collect. Gyms, hairdressers, community facilities, hotels, clubs, and casinos must all close. Schools must also close, except for the children of essential workers, while childcare will remain open.

“This is the fourth lockdown Melbourne employers have had to endure, and each time it has a significant financial impact on business,” said Employsure Business Partner Josh Paterson.

“Business owners across the state will be feeling anxious over the coming week, given the fact this is the first lockdown with no JobKeeper wage subsidy support to help prop them up. Small business owners will be hit hard by this, and more support packages should be considered to help them through it. The state government has said more support will be offered, so we will wait and see what that entails.

“Some businesses are resilient and have gotten good at shifting operations online where applicable, but for others, a fourth lockdown could be the final one that breaks them.”

By now, employers should know what a lockdown means for them. If employers in affected industries are told to close, they need to abide by these rules. Not only will they incur a fine if they fail to do so, but they risk the health of their staff, customers, and clients.

For those who can remain open, they need to direct employees to wear a mask at all times in the workplace (unless an exemption applies) and ensure their COVID Safe Plan is regularly reviewed and implemented. Businesses that can switch their operations by having employees work from home must do so.

Business owners should plan for the worst and hope for the best. If an employee or independent contractor tests positive to COVID-19 over the coming days and has physically been in the workplace while infected, the employer must notify health authorities and WorkSafe Victoria as soon as they become aware.

Having an effective infection control policy that includes identifying and assessing the infection hazards at the workplace and implementing specific controls can help eliminate or minimise the risk of transmission. These may include physical distancing, regular handwashing with soap and the use of hand-sanitiser. Appropriate routine environmental cleaning and disinfection should occur regularly at all workplaces.

Should a worker or employee fall ill, additional control measures need to be initiated. This includes isolating the infected person, identifying anyone they may have come in contact with and disinfecting the areas they have been working in.

“This lockdown will cripple an already fragile economy and these next seven days will be crucial,” continued Mr Paterson.

“Business owners need to ensure they meet their health and safety responsibilities, comply with their legal obligations, and follow government directions.”

Further enquiries:

Matthew Bridges

[email protected]

*This information is general in nature and is not a substitute for advice from a qualified medical professional.

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