By Amanda Curatore

From 11:59pm, Wednesday 5 August 2020, some workplaces around Melbourne closed as a result of stage 4 lockdown restrictions. Only a workplace which is part of a “permitted activity” are able to remain open. All Melbourne residents who are required to leave home for work must carry a work permit which must be presented to law enforcement on demand.

Permitted worker scheme

An employer who requires their staff to attend a work site must issue a worker permit to their employees. It is important to note that the issuance of such permit is the responsibility of the employer.

Significant penalties of up to $19826 (for individuals) and $99132 (for businesses) apply to employers who issue worker permits to employees who do not meet the strict requirements of the worker permit scheme or who otherwise breach the scheme requirements.

There will also be on-the-spot fines of up to $1652 (for individuals) and up to $9913 (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.

Eligibility for a worker permit

Employers can issue a worker permit to their employee if:

  • the business 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.

A list of permitted work industries that can issue worker permits to employees can be found here.

Even where an employee has been issued with a worker permit, they are prohibited from using this worker permit if:

  • they test positive to coronavirus (COVID-19) and are required to self-isolate; or
  • they are a close contact of someone who has tested positive.

How to fill out a worker permit

To issue a worker permit, employers will need:

  • name, ABN, company 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 meet all relevant legal obligations;
  • to have a COVID-19 safe plan in place; and
  • to authorise a person to issue the worker permit.

What about casual staff who don’t have regular hours?

Employers may need to issue worker permits for specified date ranges for employees who do not have regular hours.

If this means that employers need to issue separate worker permits for new rostering periods, the employee will need to carry their old worker permit, to ensure authorities can verify with their employer that they are on their way to work.

 How to issue a worker permit

Employers must:

  • fill out the template attached to this article
  • have an authorised person (such as the CEO, HR Manager or Operations Manager) sign the worker permit. This can be done electronically
  • have the employee sign the permit. This can be done electronically.

Carrying a worker permit

Not only must employees carry the worker permit with them when travelling to and from work, but they should also carry photo identification.

If your business has a coronavirus-related query, please contact the HR Assured team.

Amanda Curatore is a qualified senior workplace relations consultant at FCB Group and HR Assured. Amanda is highly experienced in providing workplace relations advice and assistance to clients in a wide range of matters including employment contracts, modern award interpretation, managing performance, bullying and harassment, terminations and managing risk.