Victorian employers must remain vigilant and compliant during state’s fifth lockdown

Published July 15, 2021 Author: Employsure
Melbourne Lockdown 5

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

Several new COVID-19 cases in the community have forced the state government to put residents back into lockdown until 11:59pm Tuesday 20 July, and as a result, a range of businesses must either close, or operate in a limited capacity, as health authorities continue contact tracing.

“This is the fifth lockdown many employers have had to endure, and each time it has a significant financial impact on business,” said Employsure Business Partner Nicholas Hackenberg.

“Business owners across the state have now been placed into a world of uncertainty for a fifth time, and will again be feeling the all too familiar sense of anxiety and stress that comes with lockdown. Some businesses are resilient and have gotten good at shifting operations online where applicable, but for others, a fifth lockdown could be the final one that breaks them.”

Business payments jointly funded by the Commonwealth and state governments were announced earlier this week in Sydney, and the Prime Minister has stated increased payments to individuals and businesses from week two of a lockdown will be proposed at the upcoming National Cabinet.

Nevertheless, employers should by now 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 as soon as they become aware.

Having an effective infection control policy that includes identifying and assessing 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 five days will be crucial,” continued Mr Hackenberg.

“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]

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