Business owners in Victoria are being asked to play their part in slowing the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). New directions have been introduced to provide additional guidance and clarity on employer and worker obligations to help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). Businesses with 5 or more employees are also required to develop COVIDSafe Plans.
COVIDSafe Plans sets out employer obligations and includes at a minimum:
- actions taken by the employer to reduce the risk of introduction and spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the work premises
- the process in place to maintain records of everyone who comes to the work premises
- the appropriate level of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to be worn at the work premises
- the processes the employer has put in place to respond to a suspected or confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) at the work premises.
- acknowledgement that the employer understands its responsibilities and obligations.
By developing a COVIDSafe Plan and implementing it, business owners will be better placed to protect their staff, their businesses and to help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
Employers have a duty to consult employees, so far as reasonably practicable, on matters related to health and safety that directly affect, or are likely to directly affect them. This includes consultation on identifying hazards or risks and decisions about how to control risks associated with coronavirus (COVID-19). The consultation should be conducted in accordance with any agreed consultation procedures.
Your questions answered
Do all businesses need a COVIDSafe Plan?
All businesses in Victoria that have 5 or more people working on any premises must have a COVIDSafe Plan in place.
From 28 September, all businesses in regional Victoria will require a COVIDSafe Plan for each open work premise with five or more workers on site.
Work premises that are currently closed under restrictions should develop a COVIDSafe Plan as a way of ensuring they have measures in place to keep their staff and customers safe when they are able to re-open.
How do I know if my business is a high-risk workplace?
High-risk workplaces need to develop a High Risk COVIDSafe Plan. High-risk workplaces include:
- Construction, warehousing and distribution, and supermarket and medical distribution centres, if they operate in metropolitan Melbourne.
- Abattoir or meat processing (including seafood and poultry) businesses, must complete a High Risk COVIDSafe Plan regardless of where they operate in Victoria.
For more information and to access the High Risk COVIDSafe Plan template visit the Business Victoria website.
Is there a COVIDSafe Plan template?
You can access the COVIDSafe Plan template and guidance on the Business Victoria website.
As a business owner, when do I need to have a COVIDSafe Plan completed by?
All businesses in regional Victoria will require a COVIDSafe Plan for each open work premise with five or more workers on site by 28 September.
In metropolitan Melbourne business owners who remain open were required to have a COVIDSafe Plan completed by 11:59pm Friday 7 August 2020. Businesses that are currently closed will need to have a COVIDSafe Plan completed before they re-open.
My business has multiple sites or locations, do I need to have a COVIDSafe Plan for each location?
Yes, you will need to develop a plan for each site or location that your business operates out of.
I have multiple businesses, do I need to have a COVIDSafe Plan for each business?
Yes, each business with 5 or more people working on any premises must have a COVIDSafe plan.
My business requires staff to visit different sites, do I need to have a COVIDSafe plan?
Yes, you will need to develop a plan for your business if your employees visit different locations, businesses or houses.
What resources are available to support business owners?
There are a number of resources available to support business owners to meet their obligations under the new directions including:
- COVIDSafe Plan template
- COVIDSafe Plan guidance
- Managing COVID-19 Risks – Face coverings in workplaces
- Preventing infection in the workplace
- Workplace guidance for managing suspected and confirmed cases (including risk assessment template) (Word)
- Close contact spreadsheet (XLS)
- Information on High Risk COVIDSafe Plans.
You can call the Business Victoria hotline on 13 22 15 for additional support.
I’m a business owner but I don’t have any staff – do I need a COVIDSafe Plan?
No, if you have fewer than 5 employees you do not need to have a COVIDSafe Plan. However you should still consider developing one to ensure you have steps in place to reduce the risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission and develop contingency plans for your business.
I’m a business owner and my staff are only working from home – do I need a COVIDSafe Plan?
No, you are only required to have a COVIDSafe Plan if you have 5 or more people working on any premises.
Which businesses require each type of COVIDSafe Plan?
The following businesses must have a COVIDSafe Plan:
- All businesses that have 5 or more employees working on any premises require a COVIDSafe Plan.
- All high-risk businesses in metropolitan Melbourne require a High Risk COVIDSafe Plan (construction, warehousing and distribution, supermarket and medical distribution centres, abattoir or meat processing (including seafood and poultry) businesses).
- All meat-processing (including seafood and poultry) businesses must complete a High Risk COVIDSafe Plan regardless of where they operate in Victoria, including in regional Victoria.
Do I need to lodge my COVIDSafe Plan to the Victorian Government?
You do not have to lodge your COVIDSafe Plan with the Victorian Government. However, you may be required to provide the COVIDSafe Plan to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) or WorkSafe including in the event of a confirmed positive case at your workplace.
Your COVIDSafe Plan should be reviewed and updated routinely, including when restrictions or public health advice changes. There will be random business spot checks for COVIDSafe Plans.
How will this be enforced?
WorkSafe Victoria is continuing to work closely with Victoria Police, Emergency Management Victoria and the Department of Health and Human Services on compliance and education activities across the state.