Victorian businesses face up to $10,904 in fines over unvaxxed workers from Friday

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A vaccine being administrated. Source: Unsplash/CDC.

Victoria’s expanded vaccine mandate kicks in this week, with up to 1.25 million authorised workers required to have at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose by Friday, October 15.

The new public health order applies to every workplace where onsite work is allowed, from click-and-collect retail hubs to dry cleaners.

Businesses that fail to comply with the public health order risk fines of up to $10,904, or up to $109,044 for the most serious breaches.

Here’s everything small businesses need to know about the mandate and the potential fines for breaching it.

What workplaces does the vaccine mandate apply to? 

The Victorian government recently expanded a public health order mandating vaccines in certain workplaces.

From Friday, October 15, any worker on the authorised worker list who is working onsite must have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The same order requires authorised workers to be fully vaccinated by November 26, 2021.

What are the fines if workers are not vaccinated? 

In Victoria, businesses can be fined between $1817 and $10,904 for breaking any public health order related to COVID-19.

Business may be in breach of public health orders if they have workers onsite who don’t meet the new vaccine rules; if they have workers onsite who do not have a valid worker permit; or if they don’t have a COVID-19 safe plan in place.

What happens if a business lies about someone’s vaccine status?

Workers and businesses that give state authorities false or misleading information about an individual’s vaccination status risk fines of $10,904 for an individual and $54,522 for a body corporate.

However, the most serious breaches of public health orders may result in court action and fines up to $109,044 for body corporates.

How do businesses prove they’re following the rules? 

A spokesperson from the Victorian Department of Justice and Community Safety told SmartCompany businesses will need to use COVIDSafe declarations to show they are meeting the obligations under public health orders. This means that if an employer is required to only have vaccinated workers onsite, they should collect, record and hold vaccine information.

Businesses that are allowed to have workers onsite are also still responsible for issuing authorised worker permits to their employees.

Who will monitor businesses?

The Victorian government has confirmed vaccination audits may be carried out on worksites as the public health order comes into effect.

These compliance efforts, known as the Industries Engagement and Enforcement Operation, are co-led by the Department of Justice and Community Safety and Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions.

A spokesperson from the Department of Justice and Community Safety told SmartCompany businesses are expected “to do the right thing” when it comes to keeping the community safe.

“Businesses should expect a visit at any time from our authorised officers, who can issue infringement, prohibition or improvement notices,” they said.

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