UPDATE: Face Masks in Victoria: What are the Employer’s Responsibilities?

Date: July 22, 2020
Author: FAL Lawyers
Posted in: Insights

We recently discussed the Victorian Government’s recommendation to wear face masks and the responsibility of employers.

The Victorian Government announced that, from 11:59pm on Wednesday 22 July, face coverings will be mandatory for those leaving their home in metropolitan Melbourne or Mitchell Shire. Fines for individuals not wearing a face covering outside their home is $200.00.

A face covering needs to cover both a person’s nose and mouth. Face masks are recommended. However, if unavailable, other forms of face covers may be used such as a face shield, bandana or scarf.

Employers shall have a responsibility to ensure all employees in and from metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire wear face coverings if they are working outside their home, unless an exception applies, such as may apply where wearing a face covers could present a risk to the worker’s health and safety.

WorkSafe, Emergency Management Victoria and Victoria Police will be carrying out an inspection and enforcement blitz at workplaces across the state, focusing on high-risk workplaces such as distribution centres, call centres and meat processing centres. Employers found to be discouraging masks will face a $9,913.00 fine.

Currently, there is no strict requirement for employers to provide employees with appropriate face coverings. However, given the recent announcement, it is arguable that providing face coverings to employees will be required to comply with employers’ obligations overarching obligation to ensure the health and safety of their employees.

While employees may wear their own face coverings in the workplace, we would recommend employers obtain a supply of disposable face masks available for employees to use, if their face covering gets damaged, soiled or wet and cannot be used.

WorkSafe will be releasing specific guidance to industry in the near future on the use of face coverings.

Contact us to enquire about your responsibilities as an employer.

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