Working from home directives toughened

PREMIER Daniel Andrews has strengthened directives about working from home to include penalties for breaches.

Mr Andrews said those currently working from home must keep working from home until at least July.

“… going forward – and in light of new evidence indicating increased activity – the obligation for employers to keep their staff working from home will now be included in the Chief Health Officer’s directions,” he said.

That means the original advice is now moving to an order by the Chief Health Officer under the Health and Wellbeing Act, which carries penalties for breaches. Companies can be fined up to $100,000 for breaching the act.

“That means there will now be a clear and shared responsibility between workers and their bosses,” Mr Andrews said.

“The number of people on the roads and the transport network is already starting to increase, and we cannot let that creep continue.

“The majority of Victorians – and employers – are following the work from home advice. But for the small number that are not, this is about removing any shadow of doubt: if you can work from home, you must continue to do so.”

Mr Andrews said the government did not have a timeline on when this might change, or how people might be able to get back to work as normal.

“For now, we’re saying this will be in place until at least the end of June, but it may well be longer,” he said.

“As always, that will depend on the advice of our Chief Health Officer.”

If staff can work from home, they must work from home, and employers must not permit them to work at the workplace.

For more, see www.dhhs.vic.gov.au.

VICTORIA’S state of emergency has been extended for another three weeks to slow the spread of coronavirus, as restrictions eased across the state on Monday.

On Sunday, Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos announced the state of emergency would be extended until 11.59pm on June 21.

The extension allows the government to continue enforcing strict physical distancing and isolation requirements, as well as other directions from the Chief Health Officer relating to businesses, working from home, mass gatherings and recreational activities.

Under a state of emergency, authorised officers can act to eliminate or reduce a serious risk to public health by detaining people, restricting movement, preventing entry to premises, or providing any other direction an officer considers reasonable to protect public health.

Police have strong powers to enforce directions and can issue on the spot fines, including up to $1652 for individuals and up to $9913 for businesses.

People who don’t comply could also be taken to court and receive a fine of up to $20,000.

Companies face fines of up to $100,000.

At the time the Gippsland Times went to print Monday morning, the total number of coronavirus cases in Wellington Shire had been amended to 12, but there were no active cases in the entirety of Gippsland.

There were 70 active cases in Victoria. For information about coronavirus, visit coronavirus.vic.gov.au or phone 1800 675 398.