Under Melbourne’s Stage 4 restrictions, workplaces are expected to be closed unless they are part of a permitted industry. This means that many businesses across different sectors will be closed during the 6-week lockdown, while others will have to reduce their staff and implement strict safety controls.
Below we detail some of the changes to businesses and support available.
What businesses stay open and who closes during stage 4?
Under Stage 4 restrictions, some services and industries will remain open.
The following retail services (plus everyone involved in the frontline response) will continue to operate under Melbourne’s Stage 4 restrictions:
- grocery stores
- bottle shops
- petrol stations
- post offices
Industries where onsite operations will stop during lockdown include:
- retail (other than those listed above)
- some manufacturing
These businesses will all need to close by 11:59pm Wednesday 5 August. For safety reasons, some businesses will have a longer timeline to shut down.
Retail businesses will still be able to operate ‘click and collect’ and delivery services with strict safety protocols in place. Hardware stores can remain open for tradespeople only.
More announcements are expected to come. Check the Victorian Government’s website to keep up to date with any more changes businesses or contact your union for advice.
What changes are there for industries permitted to operate?
Premier Andrews has announced that big changes will be made to industries with a high risk of COVID transmission. These changes include:
- The meat industry workforce will be scaled back to two-thirds. This will apply to abattoirs in Melbourne and across the state
- Warehousing and distribution centres in Melbourne will be limited to no more than two-thirds the normal workforce allowed onsite at any one time
- The construction sector will also move to ‘pilot-light’ levels. For major construction sites, this means the absolute minimum required for safety but no more than 25% of the normal workforce onsite
- Small-scale construction will be limited to a maximum of 5 people onsite
- Additional safety requirements including extra PPE, staggering shifts, staggering breaks, health declarations and more support for sick workers to ensure they stay home
A table outlining examples of workplaces that are closed for on-site work or open for on-site work with additional obligations is available here .
For more specific information on what the changes mean to your industry or workplace, contact your relevant union:
- Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF)
- Health Services Union (HSU)
- New South Wales Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA)
Manufacturing, maritime, energy, resources and trades
- Australasian Meat Industry Employees' Union (AMIEU)
- Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU)
- Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers (AIMPE)
- Australian Maritime Officers Union (AMOU)
- Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining & Energy Union (CFMMEU)
- Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union of Australia (CEPU)
- Australian Education Union (AEU)
- National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU)
- Independent Education Union of Australia (IEU)
Sport, recreation and the arts
- Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA)
- Australian Licenced Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA)
- Transport Workers Union (TWU)
- Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU)
Hospitality and retail
- Club Managers’ Association Australia (CMAA)
- Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA)
Services (public, private and community sectors)
The Victorian Government has also prepared the following sector guidance:
- Abattoirs and meat processing facilities/poultry processing facilities
- Supermarket distribution centres
- Medical supply and pharmaceutical businesses
- Warehousing and distribution
What obligations to employers have?
Under work health and safety laws, your employer has a duty to eliminate or reduce the risks associated with COVID-19. To support this, the Victorian Government has detailed a number of employer obligations.
Under Stage 4 restrictions, all workplaces that remain open must:
- Have a COVID Safe Plan (except for businesses with fewer than 5 employees)
- Issue a worker permit to all employees attending work on site (Worker Permit Scheme)
- Make sure any workers that can work from home are able to do so
- Collect records of all workers, subcontractors, customers and clients attending the work premises for 15 minutes or longer
- one worker per four square metres of enclosed workspace or in shared areas
- make sure that workers do not work across multiple sites, or for multiple employers (unless exemptions apply)
- Send home any worker who is unwell and direct them to be tested. They must stay home until they have their result
- Ensure that workers are in good health - workers cannot work if they are unwell and employers must not require workers with symptoms to work
- Report any positive cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) to DHHS, Worksafe, Health and Safety Representatives, and notify your workforce
- Regularly clean facilities, shared spaces and provide additional cleaning supplies
- Conduct risk assessments for cleaning and the potential closure of your workplace in certain situations
Contact your union or the Australian Unions Support Centre if you are have concerns that your employer is not meeting these obligations.
What is a COVID Safe Plan?
All businesses who remain open during Stage 4 restrictions must have a COVID Safe Plan to help protect workers, customers and visitors from coronavirus.
The COVID Safe Place must include:
- What actions are being taken to help prevent the introduction of coronavirus (COVID-19) to the workplace
- The level of face-covering or personal protective equipment (PPE) required for your workforce
- How your employer will prepare for and respond to a confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19) in your workplace
- How the requirements of the Victorian Government will be met
Some high-risk industries or workplaces will have additional requirements of employers and employees.
Under workplace law, your employer must consult with employees when introducing changes to workplace health and safety – including introducing a COVID Safe Plan.
For more information on keeping safe at work, download the COVID-Aware Workplace Kit , or contact the Australian Unions Support Centre if you have any questions about the COVID Safe Plan at your work.
What is the Worker Permit Scheme?
Under Stage 4 restrictions, any worker who has to attend work onsite must be issued a permit from their employer. It is the employer’s responsibility to issue the permits and they must make sure their employees are eligible for a permit. Both employees and their workers can receive hefty fines if the scheme is breached. You can also be fined if you are found travelling to and from work without a permit.
The Victorian Government has created a worker template available here.
Am I eligible for a worker permit?
It is your employer’s responsibility to make sure you are eligible for a worker permit and to issue you one if you are required to work on site. You may be eligible if:
- Your work is on the list of permitted activities
- You are working in an approved category for on-site work, and
- You cannot work from home
In some circumstances you may not need to have a worker permit.
- If you are at risk at home, such as at risk of family violence
- If you are a law enforcement, emergency services or health workers who carries employer-issued photographic identification.
If you have any questions about your eligibility to work onsite contact your union or the or the Australian Unions Support Centre .
What support is there available for businesses directed to shut?
The Victorian Government has expanded their existing Business Support Fund to support businesses that suffer significant losses or have had to close under the restrictions.
Businesses in regional Victoria can apply for a $5,000 grant and businesses in Melbourne and Mitchell Shire can apply for up to $10,000.
Businesses can apply for the grant through the Victorian Government here.
Funding for this factsheet was provided by the Victorian Government as part of the uTech project. Please note that the information given here is general information only and is not legal advice. For further assistance, it is recommended you speak to your union.