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News & Analysis

If you’re travelling to work in Melbourne from August 6, you’ll need a permit or face a massive fine

- August 5, 2020 3 MIN READ
Photo: AdobeStock
Thousands of Victorian businesses shut down for six weeks from midnight tonight, with around 250,000 workers sent home.

But if you’re planning to travel to work in Melbourne from Thursday, August 6, you must have a worker permit issued by your boss or cop swingeing fines under tough new stage 4 lockdown laws.

The changes kick in as Victoria has its worst day on record with 725 new cases and 15 deaths, including a man in his 30s, the youngest victim so far in Australia.

There are 19 people under 30 in Victorian hospitals with coronavirus – four of in intensive care.

The workers permit template can be found here on the Victorian government website.

It needs to be signed by both the employer and worker. You must carry the permit with you, along with photo ID, as you head to and from work. The permit can be held electronically as a photo, or scanned copy, on a mobile device for authorities to review.

Melbourne residents are already under a range of restrictions, including an 8pm curfew, a limit of travelling no more than a 5km radius from home, and a 60 minute limit on exercise outdoors daily.

From 11:59pm tonight, August 5, workplaces in Melbourne must be closed unless the business is part of a permitted activity, or all employees are working from home. The details on permitted businesses are available here.

From midnight employers have a legal responsibility to issue worker permits to staff required to attend their workplace.

Without one, people could cop an on-the-spot fine of up to $1,652, while businesses face fines of up to $9,913 for anyone who breaches the scheme requirements, including employers and employees who don’t carry their permit travelling to and from work.

They face even tougher penalties – up to $19,826 per person and $99,132 for businesses – if the employer issues worker permits to employees who don’t meet or breach the permit scheme requirements.

The few exceptions include if an employee is at risk at home from circumstances such as family violence, or if they work in law enforcement, emergency services workers or the health sector – but they must carry employer-issued photographic ID that clearly identifies their employer

Who is eligible?

Employers can issue a worker permit to their employee if:

  • the organisation is on the list of permitted activities
  • the employee is working in an approved category for on-site work, and
  • the employee cannot work from home.

The permit cannot be used if the person has tested positive to covid-19 and are required to self-isolate; and/or they are a close contact of someone who has tested positive.

Details employers need

To issue a worker permit, the employer needs to detail:

  • the company name, ABN, address and trading name
  • the name and date of birth of the employee
  • the employee’s regular hours and place of work
  • to meet all eligibility criteria, including that the business is a permitted activity
  • to have a COVID-19 safe plan in place
  • to authorise a person or people to issue the worker permit.

The permit can be signed electronically or in person (the same applies to the worker), but it must be done by an authorised person such as the CEO, HR manager, or an operations manager. They may be contacted by Victoria Police or other enforcement agencies to confirm the details.

A company can email or text the worker permit to the employee and there’s also dispensation for an employee to travel to work without a worker permit once to get their first permit.

Sole traders must issue a worker permit and sign it as both the employer and employee.

For casual workers with irregular hours, the government says employers may need to issue separate worker permits for specified date ranges as rosters change. Employees should carry their old worker permit for authorities to verify any changes with their employer.

If someone works on multiple sites, the government says employers should minimise any requirement for employees to work at different sites and any employee working at more than one site must keep a log of the places visited including date, time and place of attendance.

Further details on the worker’s permit scheme are available here.

Contact Business Victoria on 13 22 15 with any specific questions.