Victorian employers must avoid complacency as lockdown lifts

Published July 27, 2021 -
Vic Lockdown Lifting

With Victoria’s fifth lockdown set to end, business owners must continue to ensure all health and safety protocols are correctly followed in order to avoid any further restrictions.

Among changes to restrictions from 11:59pm, businesses and venues will be able to reopen with capacity and density limits of one person per four square metres, restaurants and cafes can reopen for seated service, and office workers will be able to return up to 25 per cent, or up to 10 people, whichever is greater.

But as people start to move around again in the community, Employsure, Australia’s largest workplace relations advisor, is urging employers not to become complacent.

“Each time the state has left lockdown, we’ve seen great compliance from the public and businesses who want to do everything they can to avoid another one,” said Employsure employment relations specialist Nicholas Hackenberg.

“With the virus still devastating residents across the border in New South Wales, Victorians must continue to remain cautious and exercise the best possible hygiene practices. This strain of the virus is so infectious, and if we were to drop our guard even for a second, it could result in a sixth lockdown.”

While some restrictions have eased, the wearing of masks still applies for all indoor and outdoor settings (excluding private residences). Employers must remain vigilant and direct employees to wear a mask at all times in the workplace (unless an exemption applies) and ensure their COVID-safe plan is properly followed. While working from home isn’t mandatory, the government health advice is ‘if you can work from home, you should work from home’.

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 as soon as they become aware.

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.

Employers may also want to keep track of which employees have received the COVID-19 vaccine using business management software. BrightHR’s Vacctrak feature lets employers monitor who is fully, partially, or not vaccinated against COVID-19 in the workplace. Employees, however, do not have to disclose their vaccination status to their boss, and as such, employers should assume a worker is unvaccinated until they receive confirmation.

Having an effective infection control policy that includes identifying and assessing infection hazards in 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.

“This will be a delicate couple of weeks, and business owners need to ensure they meet their health and safety responsibilities, comply with their legal obligations, and follow government directions,” continued Mr Hackenberg.

“This is the fifth time the state has come out of lockdown – let’s hope it’s the last.”

Further enquiries:

Matthew Bridges

[email protected]

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