As thousands of Melbourne businesses prepare to close from midnight tonight, further details have become available about the worker permits that business owners will need to issue if their workplace is remaining open.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced on Monday that businesses in certain sectors will be allowed to continue to trade under the city’s stage four restrictions, however, staff will need to carry with them a document from their employer to confirm their employment.
The ‘permitted work scheme’ will require all businesses that are continuing to operate in physical workplaces in Melbourne to issue permits to workers from 11.59pm, Wednesday, August 5.
Both businesses and individuals face significant fines if worker permits are not used, or the rules of the scheme are breached.
Andrews said on Tuesday the rules of the Melbourne worker permits would employ “old-fashioned common sense” and carrying the permit while travelling to and from work would mean workers won’t feel “a sense of anxiety or a sense of having to tell your story 17 times”.
Here’s what businesses need to know about the new Melbourne worker permits.
Do all workers need a permit?
Yes. All workers that are participating in on-site work will need a permit from tonight.
According to the Victorian Department of Justice, employers will need to issue worker permits if their business is on the government’s list of permitted activities, employers are working in approved categories for on-site work, and the employees cannot work from home.
Permits are not needed if every employee in the business is exclusively working from home, or an employee is at risk working from home, such as at risk of family violence. Permits are also not needed for health workers, emergency services workers and those in law enforcement, who already carry with them employer-issued photographic identification.
Employees must not use their work permit if they test positive for COVID-19 and are therefore required to self-isolate, or they are a close contact of someone who has tested positive.
What are the fines if a worker does not have a permit?
Businesses and individual workers face significant fines if they breach the rules of the permit system.
Employees who do not carry their permit with them when travelling to and from work can be issued with on-the-spot fines of up to $1,652, while employers can be fined up to $9,913. The same fines apply to other breaches of the scheme requirements.
Additionally, workers can be fined up to $19,826 and businesses up to $99,132 if employers issue work permits to employees who do not meet the requirements of the scheme or who otherwise breach its requirements.
Where do I access and issue the permits?
The template for the worker permits is available for download here.
It is the responsibility of employers to download the template for all workers. Employers must sign the permit, either by hand or electronically, and this signature can be provided by an authorised person, such as the owner, CEO, HR manager or operations manager. This person may be contacted by the police or enforcement agencies if details need to be confirmed.
Employees must also sign the worker permit, either by hand or electronically.
Permits can be sent to workers via email or text, and an employee can travel to work with the permit on one occasion to pick up the permit.
Workers must also carry photo identification with them, alongside the permit, when travelling to work. Permits can be shown electronically, including as a photo, scanned copy or on a mobile phone.
What details do I need to know to fill out the permit for my workers?
To fill out the permit form, you will need the following details:
- Name, ABN, company address and trading name;
- Name and date of birth of the employee; and
- The employee’s regular hours and place of work.
Businesses must also have a COVID-19 safe plan in place, and meet all the relevant eligibility requirements of being able to trade.
Does this also apply to sole traders?
Yes. Sole traders who are completing on-site work must issue a permit, and then sign it as both the employer and employee.
How does it work for casual employees?
Casual workers who do not work regular hours may need to be issued with separate permits for specified date ranges. They may also need to carry with them multiple worker permits if they are beginning new rosters with different hours.
If a worker is picking up a last-minute shift or is called into work unexpectedly, they are to carry their existing permit with them, and then authorities will verify that they are attending work with their employer.
Employers are advised to avoid situations where employees are working at multiple sites. If an employee does work at multiple locations, they must then keep a log of the workplaces they attended, including the date, time and place.
How does it work if I operate a franchise?
This depends on who is considered the employer under the franchise agreement.
If, for example, the agreement sets up that the franchisee is the employer, then they will be responsible for issuing permits to workers.
What about if I use sub-contractors?
Again, this depends on who the employer is in the particular situation. It may be the main contractor, or the sub-contractor themselves if they are a sole trader.
Do I need a permit if I am taking another worker to their place of work?
If a worker is dependent or unable to get themselves to work, an adult can take them to and from their workplace without a permit. However, authorities must be able to confirm that the travel is appropriate for the worker’s permit.
More information is available on the Victorian Department of Justice website here.