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Work, study and volunteering

Find information about how COVIDSafe Settings affect working, studying and volunteering in Victoria.

Summary

Victoria returns to COVIDSafe Settings from 11:59pm Friday 26 February 2021. 

Up to 75 per cent of office workers can return to on-site work. Offices with fewer than 40 staff can have 30 staff on-site at any one time. Staggered arrival and departure times are recommended.

You must always carry a face mask with you when you leave home unless you have a lawful reason not to. For more information on when face masks must be worn, see When to wear a face mask.

As restrictions ease it is important to stay safe by washing your hands regularly, coughing and sneezing into a tissue or your elbow and keeping at least 1.5 metres from others.

All school students enrolled in Victorian schools have returned to on-site learning. 

On site learning can return for university, TAFE and adult education for the summer semester, but care must still be taken to ensure COVIDSafe practices are followed.

WorkSafe advice about face masks in work premises

The Victorian Chief Health Officer has directed that employers must take reasonable steps to ensure that employees, when working at their employer’s work premises, carry a face mask at all times and wear a face mask in settings where face masks are required, in accordance with the directions currently in force (unless an exception applies).

For more information, visit   WorkSafe.

What does this mean I can do?

  • Employers must have a COVIDSafe Plan for their work premises.
  • Employers must outline in the COVIDSafe Plan their processes for ensuring no more than 75 per cent of their office-based workforce attends the office on any one day.
  • Employers are required to ensure work premises keep to this limit and that all other staff continue to work from home (unless it is not reasonably practicable for staff to work from home).
  • Record keeping requirements for workplaces will remain unchanged, which means that an employer must keep a record of all workers and all visitors who attend the premises for longer than 15 minutes.
  • It is important to stay safe by washing your hands regularly, coughing and sneezing into a tissue or your elbow and keeping at least 1.5 metres from others.
  • You must carry a face mask with you when you leave home, unless you have a lawful reason not to. For more information visit Face masks - work and volunteering or Face masks - study and school.
  • It is recommended that you wear a face mask when you cannot keep 1.5 metres distance from others, unless a lawful exception applies.

In high-risk work premises, employers must ensure that workers wear a face mask at the work premises in accordance with the directions currently in force.

Work

Can I go to work?

Yes, if you can’t work from home you can go to work. Workers who must attend onsite due to the nature of their work may continue to do so and there is no limit on the number of people who can attend.

From 11:59pm on Friday 26 February up to 75 per cent of office workers are able to return to on-site work.

Offices with fewer than 40 staff can have 30 staff on-site subject to density quotients.

Employers are required to ensure work premises keep to this limit and that all other staff continue to work from home.

This will allow organisations to provide plenty of space between workers where it is practical to do so.

You and your employer should work together to identify if you can return to work, continue to work from home, or a blend of both.

You should also consider flexible working arrangements with your employer, including off-peak travel.

When at work you can stay safe by:

  • wearing a face mask. Wearing a mask under your chin does not provide protection to you or others. You need to wear your mask securely around the face, specifically covering the nose and the mouth areas.
  • washing your hands regularly
  • coughing and sneezing into a tissue or your elbow
  • keeping at least 1.5 metres distance from others
  • taking extra care to distance yourself from others when in lobbies, reception areas, lifts, lunch rooms and meeting rooms.

If you are unwell, you must stay home and get tested for COVID-19.

You must carry a face mask when you leave home, unless you have a lawful reason not to wear a face mask. It is strongly recommended you wear a face mask when you can’t keep 1.5 metres distance from other people.

You must continue to wear a face mask when on public transport, in taxis, ride shares or other commercial passenger vehicles, in hospitals and inside spaces of care facilities, indoors at shopping centres, retail facilities with 2000 or more square metres of indoor space, markets and market stalls, on domestic flights to and from Victoria, at airports, and if you are a diagnosed person or close contact in accordance with the Diagnosed Persons and Close Contacts Directions (unless an exception applies).

All businesses must have a COVIDSafe Plan if they have on-site operations including businesses operating from a home (e.g. hairdressing from a home).

Businesses do not need a COVIDSafe Plan for individuals working from home who would ordinarily attend on-site operations outside their home. Businesses with no on-site operations (for example, sole traders working from home who do not have business-related visitors) are not required to have a COVIDSafe Plan.

Do I need to wear a face mask in the office?

You are no longer required to wear a mask in the office, but it is strongly recommended you wear a face mask when you can’t keep 1.5 metres distance from other people.

You must continue to wear a face mask when on public transport, in taxis, ride shares or other commercial passenger vehicles, in hospitals and inside spaces of care facilities, indoors at shopping centres, retail facilities with 2000 or more square metres of indoor space, markets and market stalls, on domestic flights to and from Victoria, at airports, and if you are a diagnosed person or close contact in accordance with the Diagnosed Persons and Close Contacts Directions (unless an exception applies).

Does my employer have a responsibility to support me to work from home?

Up to 75% of office workers are allowed to return to work.

Employers must allow office workers to attend the office where it is not reasonably practicable for a worker to work from home (or another suitable premises).

Employers must not require office workers to work from the office if it is reasonably practicable for the worker to work from home (or another suitable premises). If you can perform your role from home or another suitable premises and wish to continue working from home you should discuss with your employer mutually beneficial arrangements.

For more information, see 'What responsibilities do employers have to support staff to work from home?' on the Working from home - information for business page.

If you cannot do your work from home, then you can go to work. However, you should consider speaking to your employer about flexible working arrangements, including off-peak travel.

If you have been tested for COVID-19 and are awaiting test results, you must stay at home. If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, however mild,  get tested and self-quarantine until you receive a negative result.

By working from home, you are helping to slow the spread of COVID-19 and are keeping those who cannot work from home safe.

I want to continue working from home - can my employer make me work on-site?

Up to 75% of office workers are allowed to return to work.

If you can perform your role from home or another suitable premises and wish to continue working from home you should discuss with your employer mutually beneficial arrangements.

Employers cannot require workers to return to the office if it is reasonably practical for them to work from home or another suitable premises.

For more advice on health and safety considerations of working from home, see the WorkSafe website.

Do I need to check-in or record my details when at work?

Yes, anyone who attends a work premises for more than 15 minutes must provide their details (including name, contact number, the time they visited and the areas they attended) for record keeping. This includes staff, contractors and visitors.

I work for a community or government-based support service for people at risk. Can I return to the office?

Yes. The 75 per cent return to work limitation includes community-based and government support services. Community-based and government support services for people at risk, such as family violence, health and wellbeing support services, where face-to-face work is needed to effectively deliver the services, continue to operate.

Do normal workplace compensation rights apply?

If you believe you have contracted COVID-19 at work, you may be entitled to workers compensation. Information on entitlements and the process for lodging a claim is available on the WorkSafe Victoria website.

If you require support or additional information please contact your employer, union or the WorkCover Advisory Service on 1800 136 089.

Can I attend on-site training in person?

You can attend on-site training, such as first aid refresher courses or occupational safety courses, if part or all of the training needs to be completed in person. Where you can study or complete the course from home you should.

You can attend on-site training in person for paid or volunteer work.

Volunteering

Can I do volunteering work?

Yes.

You must carry a face mask with you when you leave home, unless an exception applies.

It is strongly recommended you wear a face mask when you can’t keep 1.5 metres distance from other people indoors and outdoors.

Practice good hygiene such as regularly washing your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds and coughing and sneezing into a tissue or your elbow.

Information for current and prospective volunteers about how to support the community and stay safe can be found at Volunteer Victoria.

I am in a high-risk group – can I volunteer?

If you are in a high-risk group, you can volunteer, however, consider minimising the number of different people you interact with.

High-risk groups include people aged 70 years and over, people aged 65 years and over with chronic medical conditions, people with compromised immune systems and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the age of 50.

You must carry a face mask with you when you leave home, unless an exception applies.

It is strongly recommended you wear a face mask when you can’t keep 1.5 metres distance from other people indoors and outdoors.

Information for current and prospective volunteers about how to support the community and stay safe can be found at Volunteer Victoria.

Study and education

Summary of restrictions

  • All Victorian school students have returned to on-site learning.
  • University, TAFE and adult education students and teachers may return for on-site learning.
  • In line with advice from the Victorian Chief Health Officer, all high-school students and school-based staff must carry a face mask at all times when they leave home, unless an exception applies. There are a number of lawful excuses for not wearing a face mask.
  • It is strongly recommended students aged 12 and over wear a face mask if they are learning or doing onsite supervision when they cannot keep 1.5 metres distance from others unless they are attending primary school.
  • It is not compulsory for teachers, educators and carers to wear face masks while teaching, interacting with or caring for children as they can interfere with their ability to clearly communicate with students. Teachers, educators and carers can choose to wear face masks if they wish when in the classroom/ facility or when teaching or providing care for children. 
  • For Information about wearing face masks at schools, early childhood education centres and places of study in Victoria go to Face masks - work and volunteering or Face masks - study and school.

Can my child go to school?

Yes. All school students enrolled in Victorian schools have returned to on-site learning.

Can my child go to childcare or kindergarten?

Yes. Childcare and kindergartens are open across Victoria.

Can my child go to playgroup?

Yes. In-person playgroups in Victoria can operate. They can be held indoors or outdoors. Playgroups must comply with the two square metre rule if electronic record keeping is undertaken. Otherwise, the four-square metre rule applies. Children and their parent or carer are each considered one person towards these density limits. Babies under 12 months of age are not included in the two square metre rule.

Parent groups organised amongst friends are subject to the social gathering limits of 30 visitors to a home and 100 people gathering in public places.

Can I still go to my classes at TAFE, college or university?

Yes, on-site learning is permitted.

When studying on-site you can stay safe by:

  • wearing a face mask when you can’t keep 1.5 metres distance from other people
  • washing your hands regularly
  • coughing and sneezing into a tissue or your elbow
  • keeping at least 1.5 metres distance from others
  • extra care needs to be taken to distance yourself from others when in lobbies, reception areas, lifts, lunch rooms and meeting rooms.

Regular study should be undertaken at home where possible.

Actions for schools

Health and safety guidance to support schools to continue to provide safe teaching and learning environments for staff and students is available on the Department of Education and Training website.

Actions for early childhood education and care services

Health and safety guidance to support early childhood education and care services to continue to provide safe teaching and learning environments for staff and children is available on the Department of Education and Training website.

Reviewed 28 February 2021

Coronavirus Victoria

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