Victorian businesses and sole traders face $200,000 fines for failing to report COVID-19 cases


In case you missed it: the Victorian government is threatening to fine business owners and sole traders upwards of $200,000 if they fail to report a confirmed coronavirus case among their workforce.

New regulations under the state’s Occupational Health and Safety Act require employers to notify WorkSafe immediately when they become aware one of their workers has a confirmed coronavirus case after attending the workplace.

The measures came into effect on Tuesday, but WorkSafe Victoria only published information about the rules yesterday, outlining some hefty fines for non-compliance.

That’s fines up to $39,652 for an individual or $198,264 for a body corporate, according to WorkSafe.

“The infectious period begins on the date 14 days prior to the onset of symptoms or a confirmed diagnosis (whichever comes first), until the day on which the person receives a clearance from isolation from the Department of Health and Human Services,” WorkSafe said.

While the fines may seem steep, they come as Victorian authorities do their utmost to curb a second wave of coronavirus infections sweeping Melbourne.

A total of 723 new coronavirus cases have been reported across Victoria in the last 24 hours, and the majority of infections so far have emerged from workplaces.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has been urging employers to ensure their staff don’t rock up to work when they’re sick, amid concern many people are spreading the virus inadvertently when they should be self-isolating.

The only way that numbers will come down, and do so steadily, is if people, when they are unwell, even very mildly unwell, go and get tested and get tested quickly. And then isolate until they get their test result,” Andrews told reporters on Thursday. 

WorkSafe can be notified of a coronavirus case through their phone advisory service on 13 23 60.

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