First Step

11.59pm on 13 September 2020

First Step: Work, study and volunteering - metropolitan Melbourne

What does this mean I can do?

From 11:59pm on 13 September 2020 if you live in metropolitan Melbourne, First Step restrictions apply:

  • A curfew is in place between the hours of 9pm and 5am. This means you must stay at home during these hours. The only reasons to leave home during these hours are for permitted work, medical treatment, and caregiving. You can also leave home for safety or emergency reasons.
  • Additional restrictions apply to which workplaces may operate. Please visit the business and industry restrictions page for more information.
  • Study at TAFE and university must be done remotely.
  • For primary and secondary students remote and flexible learning continues in the First Step.
  • As much as you can, you must stay at home. When you leave home, you must wear a face covering. 
Your questions answered

Work

Can I leave my house to go to work?

Under First Step restrictions, you may only leave home for permitted work.

Unless you are in a permitted industry, if you continue to work, you must work from home. This is important in helping to limit the number of people moving around – and slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

If your place of work is permitted to operate and you can’t work from home, you should maintain physical distancing by keeping at least 1.5 metres between you and others and practise good hygiene - wash your hands and cough and sneeze into a tissue or your elbow.

You must wear a face covering when you leave home, this includes wearing your face covering while at work, unless you have a lawful reason for not doing so. This also includes when you are travelling for work purposes, for example either to or from work on public transport or in shared cars with people outside your household.

All open businesses and services  had until 11:59pm Friday 7 August to enact a COVIDSafe plan focused on safety, prevention and response in the event that coronavirus is linked to the workplace

For more information visit the face coverings page.

If you are unwell, you must stay home and you should also get tested for coronavirus (COVID-19).

What is the Worker Permit Scheme?

From 11:59pm on Wednesday 5 August, employers that require their staff to attend a work site in metropolitan Melbourne as part of a permitted activity, must issue a worker permit to their employees – this is the employer’s responsibility. Advice on access to childcare for permitted workers is provided below.

Penalties of up to $19,826 (for individuals) and $99,132 (for businesses) will apply to employers who issue worker permits to employees who do not meet the requirements of the worker permit scheme or who otherwise breach the scheme requirements.

There will also be on-the-spot fines of up to $1,652 (for individuals) and up to $9,913 (for businesses) for anyone who breaches the scheme requirements. This includes employers, and employees who do not carry their worker permit when travelling to and from work.

Do I need a permit to send my child to school for onsite supervision?

If you are a permitted worker who is required to work onsite, you can use your permitted work permit to access school for your child. You should carry your permitted worker permit when you drop your child at school.  

You do not need a permit to drop your child at school if your child is vulnerable and is attending school onsite. 

Does my employer have a responsibility to support me to work from home?

Your employer must support you to work from home, if you can work from home. For more information, see 'What responsibilities do employers have to support staff to work from home' on the Working from home - information for business page.

By working from home, you are helping to slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and are keeping those who cannot work from home safe.

If your place of work is permitted to operate and if you cannot do your work from home, then you can go to work. However, you should consider flexible working arrangements with your employer including off-peak travel. If you are unwell, you must stay at home. If you have any symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), however mild, you should get tested.

All open businesses and services  had until 11:59pm Friday 7 August to enact a COVIDSafe plan focused on safety, prevention and response in the event that coronavirus is linked to the workplace.

What do I do if my employer and I disagree about working from home?

You and your employer should work together to identify if you can work from home. Workers can raise concerns about being asked to return to work through the Police Assistance Line (PAL) on 131 444. If a complaint is made, the employer would need to show why the employee cannot work from home.

What if I’m finding it difficult to work from home? Can I choose to work from my normal workplace?

Under current restrictions, you may only leave home for permitted work. Many industries are not permitted to undertake onsite work. If you work in a role where onsite work is not permitted, you must work from home.

Even if you work in an industry or sector which permits onsite work, if you can work from home, you must do so. This is important in helping to limit the number of people moving around – and limit the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

You can only work from your normal workplace if it is permitted under the First Step restrictions and you cannot perform your role from home or another location.

For more advice on health and safety considerations of working from home, see the WorkSafe website.

I am a permitted worker. Can I exercise or shop near my workplace if I work more than 5km from home?

No. As a permitted worker you may travel to and from your workplace to undertake work and must limit your movement as much as possible. You must shop or exercise close to your home.

My partner is a permitted worker but can't drive. Can I take them to work?

Yes, you may drive your partner to work if they cannot drive themselves. You should carry a copy of their work permit with you.

You may drive a passenger - either from your household or outside - for one of the four permitted reasons if they cannot drive themselves.

This could include taking someone you care for to the supermarket or to a doctor's appointment.

The enclosed space of a car presents a heightened risk of transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19). Where possible a passenger, who is not part of your household, should sit in the back seat in order to maintain physical distancing, and wear a face mask in the car.

Do I need a permit to attend a job interview?

Job interviews should be conducted online. If this is not practical and the job is in a permitted industry, you can attend an interview in person.  You will need to arrange for the company to provide you with a permit before you travel to attend the interview. You will need to wear a face covering at all times when you leave home and keep 1.5 metre distance from others, unless you have a lawful reason for not doing so.

I work in two permitted industries. Can I work both jobs?

Working at multiple worksites should be avoided if possible. If you do work for more than one employer you must provide a written declaration to each employer to advise them where else you are working.

Can I attend onsite if I have confidential documents or mail I need to access, but I am not a permitted worker?

No. You cannot attend work onsite if you are not a permitted worker.

I’m driving to work – are parking lots or parking concierge services open?

Car parks that support permitted workers are able to open. Check with the relevant operator to see if they remain open. 

Are parking inspectors allowed to operate under First Step restrictions?

Councils are only permitted to enforce essential parking restrictions where these are related to issues of safety and access. For example, vehicles in No Standing Zones blocking access to private property or bus lanes and vehicles without the necessary permit parked in disabled car parks.

My business is closed under First Step restrictions – can I visit the premises for administration or maintenance purposes?

If your business is closed under current restrictions, you can only visit to:

  • ensure the facility is safely closed
  • support employees who are working from home (i.e. organising I.T. equipment to be delivered to their home)
  • address an emergency or otherwise required by law.

Emergency maintenance is also permitted.

Can offices remain open under First Step restrictions for tasks that are not able to be completed from home? 

No. Offices that are not on the permitted work premises list cannot open. The list of permitted work premises can be found at business-industry-stage-4-restrictions-covid-19.

My business has five or more employees, but we are not operating a workplace in metropolitan Melbourne with five workers. Are we required to have a COVIDSafe plan? 

No. An employer is not required to complete a COVIDSafe plan if they have fewer than five workers on site. However, a COVIDSafe Plan is still recommended for these workplaces. 

Volunteering

The following factsheet details information on how to support the community while staying safe under current restrictions.

Can I leave my house to do volunteering work?

Yes. You can continue to do volunteer or unpaid work if the organisation you are volunteering for is still operating and you are a permitted worker. You must wear a face covering when you leave home, unless an exception applies. For more information, visit the face coverings page.

Even with a face covering, you should maintain a physical distance of at least 1.5 metres between yourself and others at all times, and ensure you practice good hygiene such as regularly washing your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds and coughing and sneezing into a tissue or your elbow.

If you can volunteer from home, you must volunteer from home.

Information for current and prospective volunteers about how to support the community and stay safe can be found at Volunteer Victoria.

I am a volunteer – do I need a permit to travel to volunteer?

Yes, you need a permit. If you are a volunteer who is still permitted to volunteer in person, for example if you are dropping off food parcels, then you should speak to the organisation you volunteer for to get a permit to leave home.

If you can do your volunteer work from home, you should. This is the best way to help keep yourself and your community safe.

For more information visit the Permitted Workers Scheme webpage.

Do volunteers need a Permitted Worker Permit?

Yes. Under First Step restrictions all workers attending a worksite in metropolitan Melbourne – including volunteers - must have a Permitted Worker Permit.

If your organisation is permitted to operate and have workers attend a worksite under current restrictions, it is the employer’s responsibility to issue worker permits to all staff (including for volunteers working on a formal or informal basis).

Volunteers must carry the worker permit and should carry photo identification when travelling to and from the worksite.

A worker permit can be shown electronically to authorities such as a photo, or scanned copy, on a mobile device.

For more information on the scheme, visit the Permitted Worker Scheme webpage.

If you do need to leave home to volunteer, please continue to:

  • stay at home and get tested if you have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), however mild
  • practice good hygiene – wash your hands regularly and cough and sneeze into a tissue or your elbow
  • keep your distance – stay at least 1.5 metres away from anyone you don’t live with
  • wear a face covering when you leave home.

For more information on protecting yourself and others from coronavirus (COVID-19), visit the Hygiene and physical distancing webpage.

What if I am in a high-risk group?

If you are in a high-risk group, you should stay at home as much as you can. You can still contribute to your community by volunteering online or over the phone.

High-risk groups include people aged 70 years and over, people aged 65 years and over with chronic medical conditions, people with compromised immune systems and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the age of 50.

I live in Melbourne but work in regional Victoria. Can I still go to work?

Yes. You may travel to work outside Melbourne but only if you cannot work from home. If you meet this criteria your employer will issue you a permit that will allow you to leave home for work.

I live in Melbourne and work in regional Victoria, what restrictions apply to me when in regional Victoria?

If you live in Melbourne the First Step restrictions apply to you. As a permitted worker you may travel to and from your workplace in regional Victoria for the permitted work. You must limit your movement as much as possible. Employers should minimise any requirement for employees to work at different sites. An employee working at more than one site must keep a log of the places visited including date, time and place of attendance.

You will need a permit to travel to and from work. For more information visit the permitted worker page.

Do normal workplace compensation rights apply?

If you believe you have contracted coronavirus (COVID-19) at work, you may be entitled to workers compensation. Information on entitlements and the process for lodging a claim is available on the WorkSafe website.

If you require support or additional information please contact your employer, union or the WorkCover Advisory Service on 1800 136 089.

Actions for organisations, workplaces or employers

For actions that organisations, workplaces and employees should take, visit business and industry.

Study and education

Summary of restrictions

Current restrictions:

  • Childcare and kindergartens in metropolitan Melbourne will only be open for children who are vulnerable or whose parents are permitted workers and who don’t have anyone else in the household who can supervise their children. A permit is requiredfor these parents to access childcare.
  • All primary and secondary school students returned to flexible and remote learning from home from Wednesday, 5 August 2020. Flexible and remote learning continues in metropolitan Melbourne unless an exemption applies.
  • In the First Step, onsite supervision for school will only be available for students who really need it. That means vulnerable children who can’t learn from home, and children whose parents are permitted workers and don’t have anyone else in the household who can supervise their children.
  • Students aged 12 years and over must wear a face covering if they are at school for onsite supervision, unless they are attending primary school. Students under the age of 12 do not have to wear a face covering.
  • Teachers, educators and carers may wear face coverings when teaching or providing care, but it is not compulsory as it can interfere with their ability to clearly communicate. However, a face covering must be worn when onsite and not teaching or providing care.
  • Study at TAFE and university must be done remotely. A limited number of exceptions
  • Even while wearing a face covering, you should keep a 1.5 metre distance between others.

Can my child go to school?

Remote learning in all schools recommenced from Wednesday, 5 August 2020. This continues in the First Step in metropolitan Melbourne

Onsite supervision will be offered but restricted – only available for students who really need it. That means children whose parents are permitted workers, vulnerable children who can’t learn from home and those in our specialist schools.

I am a tutor - can I still go to private homes? 

If you are a tutor you need to conduct your classes online. If the child you are tutoring has specialist needs you can tutor in person, but both yourself and your student must wear face coverings if the student is 12 years and over.

Can my child go to childcare or kindergarten?

Childcare and kindergartens in metropolitan Melbourne will only be open for children who are vulnerable or whose parents are permitted workers. 

If you are a permitted worker and you live with another parent or carer who can supervise your children, then your children will need to do remote learning from home. A permitted worker can access childcare if the other parent or carer cannot supervise that child. If your child is vulnerable and is attending childcare or kindergarten you do not need a permit. 

A permitted worker can access childcare if they are working onsite or working from home. A permit is required for these parents to be able to access childcare.

Can my child go to playgroup?

No, playgroups  must stop meeting from 11:59pm on 5 August.

Do students at schools need to wear a face covering?

Students aged 12 years and over who are being supervised onsite must wear face coverings, unless a lawful exception applies.

Students who are aged 12 years and over and are attending onsite primary school do not need to wear a face covering at school. The Victorian Chief Health Officer has advised that it is not practical to require some primary school students to wear face coverings while others are not required to.

Students who attend a specialist school are not required to wear a face covering but may do so if they or their family choose to. Students are not required to wear a face covering where their disability means it would not be suitable.

For more information on face coverings at school, visit the visit the face coverings page.

Can I still go to my classes at TAFE, college or university?

No. All TAFE and universities across Victoria must move to remote learning. Collaborative assignments and team study projects should be done using online tools. Study at home. A limited number of exceptions apply.

Actions for TAFEs, colleges and universities

Institutions must continue to provide online or remote learning.

Actions for schools

Health and safety guidance to support schools to continue to provide safe teaching and learning environments for staff and students as schools is available on the Department of Education and Training website.

Actions for early childhood education and care services

Health and safety guidance to support early childhood education and care services to continue to provide safe teaching and learning environments for staff and children is available on the Department of Education and Training website.

I am a student attending a tertiary facility where onsite delivery is permitted. Under First Step restrictions, can I access childcare? 

Yes, for the purposes of accessing childcare, students should be treated as a permitted worker, and apply the same guidelines issued for the Worker Permit Scheme.

Under First Step restrictions, what courses allow “onsite study or training"?  (i.e. which courses/ areas of study are able to attend onsite for university and TAFE?) 

The permitted occupations and activities for which tertiary education and training facilities can have onsite attendance is available at the permitted work premises - education and training restrictions COVID-19.

Can onsite Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) training occur at workplaces under First Step restrictions? 

Yes, training for OHS can operate in a permitted industry and onsite, if it is not reasonably practicable for the training to be conducted virtually from home. Information, advice and training should still be delivered in a way that minimises contact as much as possible, such as through a virtual meeting. 

Can I as a candidate or a volunteer letterbox drop for the upcoming council elections?

Under the First Step restrictions, a person may leave home for the purposes of letterboxing as candidate, employee or volunteer for a local government election campaign subject to the restrictions under exercise - that being for no more than two hours a day, split over a maximum of two session. 

Where printing is required, only click and collect may be used. People are not able to go into homes to collect pamphlets, these can be left outside for people to collect.

Candidates can travel to the ward in which they are running to letter box drop. However, volunteers may only letter box drop within their ward of residence or within a 5 kilometre distance from their home.

How will these directions be enforced, and who will enforce them?

Directions will continue to be enforced through spot checks by Victoria Police and use of emergency powers by Authorised Officers to ensure compliance with the Public Health Directions. 

Industry bodies, Victoria Police, WorkSafe, and Authorised Officers will work together to inform Victorians about the directions, as well as undertake enforcement and compliance activities as needed.

Community members can raise concerns about compliance with directions through the Police Assistance Line (PAL) on 131 444. Workers can raise concerns via WorkSafe on 1800 136 089. And employers can talk to their industry regulator or peak body for specific industry related support.

A Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak Joint Intelligence Unit has been established to support comprehensive preparedness and responses to outbreaks and identify and manage outbreak risks.

The Department of Health and Human Services and WorkSafe will co-ordinate intelligence and information on businesses that are non-compliant.

What are the penalties for non-compliance?

Victoria Police can issue on-the-spot fines of up to $1,652 for individuals and up to $9,913 for businesses for:

  • refusing or failing to comply with the emergency directions
  • refusing or failing to comply with a public health risk power direction
  • refusing or failing to comply with the Public Health Directions to provide information.

Fines of up to $20,000 for individuals and $100,000 for businesses are possible through the court system.

Individuals who do not wear a face covering and do not have a lawful reason can be fined $200.