Industry Restart Guidelines
Frequently asked questions - COVIDSafe Settings
Updated: 2 March 2021
Read below for answers to frequently asked questions by businesses that operate out of office workplaces in Victoria.
What are the current face mask requirements?
Face masks continue to be mandatory in some locations, unless a lawful reason not to wear one applies.
Do I have to wear a face mask if I am the only person in the office?
No. Lawful reasons and exceptions for not wearing a face mask include where a person is working by themselves in an enclosed indoor space (unless and until another person enters that indoor space). These and further exceptions are found in the Stay Safe Directions (Victoria) and the Workplace Directions (Victoria).
Can workers return to the office during COVIDSafe Settings?
Victorians who have been working from home can make a partial and optional return to the work premises, subject to the return to offices cap, explained below.
How many workers can return per work premises (what is the ‘return to offices cap’)?
The return to offices cap refers to the number of workers permitted in the work premises at any one time.
From 11.59pm Friday 26 February 2021, the return to offices cap allows:
- 75 per cent of office workers; or
- 30 workers if the organisation employs less than 40 people
of the workforce that normally works at each work premises to be present, subject to a . If the number of people allowed in the workplace under the density quotient is less than the return to office cap, the density quotient applies.
Is there a density quotient for workers returning to the office?
The total number of workers permitted on-site at any one time is subject to a in common areas. This includes areas such as open plan offices, tearooms, bathrooms and meeting rooms.
All workers, including those that cannot work from home, are included in the density quotient. If the density quotient of a worksite is less than the return to offices cap, then the maximum number of workers allowed on-site is determined by the . In publicly accessible areas, the applies to both workers and visitors.
These requirements are further to any pre-existing occupancy limit requirements of the .
Which workers do I count as part of the return to offices cap?
The return to offices cap includes all workers, employees, subcontractors (and their workers), volunteers, and any other person engaged or permitted by an employer to perform work at the work premises (for example, consultants) who can work from home. Workers who cannot work from home and so were already on-site do not need to be included in the return to offices cap.
Should start and finish times be staggered for workers returning to the office?
Where permitted under worker awards, enterprise agreements, or employment contracts, start and finish times should be staggered to reduce congregation of workers around entrances, lifts, stairwells and other high-traffic areas.
Employers must allow workers to work from home if they can.
Can the workers attending the work premises change each day?
Yes. Under the return to offices cap, employers can change which workers they allow to work from the work premises each day.
My organisation had ‘permitted workers’ on-site during previous restrictions. Are these workers counted as part of the return to offices cap?
No. Workers already on-site do not need to be included in the return to offices cap. Only workers who can work from home should be counted.
Your return to offices cap calculations should include all workers, employees, subcontractors (and their workers), volunteers, and any other person engaged or permitted by an employer to perform work at the work premises (for example, consultants) who can work from home.
My organisation has workers based at several locations. Can I consolidate my workforce to operate out of one building?
The return to offices cap is applied by work premises, not by business.
My organisation has multiple offices. How is the cap applied to each office, and can workers switch between office locations, but remain under the cap for their original location?
The return to offices cap applies to each work premises.
Workers can switch between sites, if the return to offices cap is not exceeded at each work premises.
My workers would like to continue working from home full-time or part-time on an ongoing basis. What do I need to do?
Is the return to offices cap applicable to tertiary and other adult education campuses?
Yes, the return to offices cap applies to administrative and support workers on campuses.
Students and teachers engaged in higher education and training can return to campuses for the summer learning programs and should not be included in the cap.
Can my employer require me to start/finish earlier or later than my usual hours when I return to work at the office?
Whether an employer can require a worker to adjust their start and finish times will depend on the workplace’s award, enterprise agreement, or employment contracts.
Some workplace agreements may allow employers to vary start and finish times in certain circumstances.
Employers can also require workers to comply with reasonable directions. This may include a variation to start or finish times if there is a genuine business need, or in order to comply with occupational health and safety laws or the .
For more information, visit: .
I run a cleaning business. Is there a limit on the number of sites that workers can attend each week during COVIDSafe Settings?
During , there are limits on the number of sites a worker can attend if they are cleaning care facilities, hospitals or hotel quarantine sites. Please see the for more information.
Employers that provide cleaning services to care facilities, hospitals or hotel quarantine must ensure there are systems in place to limit the number of worksites that workers cleaning those sites attend. Where it is not possible to limit this to just one worksite, employers must demonstrate in their that they have systems and processes in place to minimise the number of workers working across multiple premises. Businesses are to support contact tracing if required, including rosters, time and attendance records and payroll data. The employee must provide written details to their employers of other work premises they attend.
Read more about cleaning, disinfecting and , including factsheets on cleaning guidelines for workers, supervisors, building owners and managers, and checklists for routine cleaning services and undertaking a cleaning and disinfection (deep cleans).
Can payroll and human resources (HR) workers attend their work premises?
Yes. If the workers can work from home but attend their work premises, they will be counted toward the return to offices cap.
Employers must have a in place and ensure staggered arrival, break and departure times for workplaces.
The seating capacity in my office is less than my total workforce. How do I apply the return to offices cap?
The return to offices cap only applies to the number of workers who are normally in the office who have been working from home.
If you have workers who normally work from a client site and intend on returning to the client site, then these workers are counted as part of the client's site cap.
Reviewed 02 March 2021