Melbourne’s COVID-19 Case – What It Means For Employers

Published February 04, 2021 (last updated January 25, 2022) -
Melbourne Covid Case

Employers in Melbourne must remain vigilant and follow all health protocols correctly, following Victoria’s first locally transmitted case of COVID-19 in almost a month, according to Employsure, Australia’s largest workplace relations advisor.

A range of restrictions have been reintroduced to help stop the potential spread of the virus. Among them, a plan to have up to 75 per cent of workers back in the office from Monday has been paused. Workplaces in the public sector must be limited to 25 per cent, while those in the private sector must remain at the current 50 per cent cap.

“What we don’t want to see is more infections that could result in another lockdown, similar to what we’re currently seeing in Perth,” said Employsure Managing Director Ed Mallett.

“Short, sharp lockdowns are becoming the norm across Australia for each new coronavirus cluster, and it’s up to business owners to be aware of what that means for them. If more cases in Melbourne force employers in affected industries 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. Businesses who can switch their operations by having employees work from home should do so.”

Masks are once again mandatory in all indoor settings for people over 12 following the new case. Business owners are being urged to strongly monitor for those who fail to comply.

Employers 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 / weeks and has physically been in the workplace while infected, the employer must notify health authorities 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.

“Business owners who have workers and employees coming into the workplace need to ensure they’re meeting their health and safety responsibilities and complying with their legal obligations, as well as following any specific Government directions,” continued Mr Mallett.

“All indoor workers and employees must wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth. In some circumstances, gloves should also be worn.

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

“Employers may need to direct employees to stay away from the workplace or to obtain medical certificates, and consider whether the employee is entitled to access paid or unpaid personal / carer’s or pandemic leave.

“These lockdowns may occur again as we wait for the rollout of the vaccine. Small businesses should use this time to stock up on whatever PPE is necessary for their workplace. What we don’t want to see is more cases reported as a result of a workplace becoming complacent, or simply failing to follow the rules,” he concluded.


Further enquiries:

Matthew Bridges

[email protected]

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