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Work, study and volunteering

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

Summary

From Monday 18 January 2021 more office workers will be able to make a partial return to the office. In line with previous announcements, up to 50 per cent of office workers who are not in the public service will be able to return to on-site work as well as up to 25 per cent of public service workers.

Offices with fewer than 40 staff can have 20 staff on-site subject to density quotients.

Additionally, from 11.59pm, Sunday 17 January 2021, face masks will no longer be mandatory in all public indoor settings. Face masks continue to be mandatory in the following locations:

  • on public transport
  • when riding in a ride share or taxi
  • in large retail stores (over 2000 sqm), such as department stores, electronics stores, furniture stores, hardware stores or supermarkets
  • inside shopping centres, including the retail stores inside shopping centres, such as clothing stores
  • inside indoor markets
  • on domestic flights to and from Victoria
  • at airports
  • in hospitals
  • when working in or visiting hospitals and care facilities.

You must always carry a face mask with you when you leave home unless you have a lawful reason not to. It is strongly recommended you wear one whenever you cannot keep 1.5 metres distance from others.

For more information visit face masks – work and volunteering or  face masks - study and school.

Worksafe advice about face masks in the workplace

The Victorian Chief Health Officer strongly recommends wearing masks in the workplace whenever you cannot keep 1.5 metres distance from others. 

For more information, visit   WorkSafe.

What does this mean I can do?

  • Employers are required to ensure workplaces keep to this limit and that all other staff continue to work from home.
  • Employers must outline their plan for ensuring no more than 50 per cent of their office-based workforce attends the office on any one day in their COVIDSafe Plan.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • You must continue to wear face masks when required, unless a awful exception applies For more information visit face masks – work and volunteering or face masks - study and school.
  • You must always carry a face mask with you when you leave home unless you have a lawful reason not to. It is strongly recommended you wear one whenever you cannot keep 1.5 metres distance 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 COVID Safe practices are followed.

Work

Worksafe advice about face masks in the workplace

The Victorian Chief Health Officer strongly recommends  wearing masks in the workplace whenever you cannot keep 1.5 metres distance from others. For more information, visit   WorkSafe.

Can office workers return to work onsite?

From 18 January 2021, up to 50 per cent of office based workforces can return to work.  The Victorian Public Service will be able to return to on-site work at 25 per cent capacity at each site. For workplaces with fewer than 40 staff, up to 20 staff will be able to return subject to density quotients. 

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

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 the work may continue to do so and there is no limit on the number of people who can attend.

For office-based workers, from 18 January 2020, office workers can  return to workplaces with up to 50 per cent of the workforce being able to attend on-site. Employers are required to ensure workplaces keep to this limit and that all other staff continue to work from home.

Businesses with fewer than 40 staff can have 20 staff on-site subject to density quotients.

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
  • extra care needs to be taken 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 coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Victorian Chief Health Officer strongly recommends  wearing masks in the workplace whenever you cannot keep 1.5 metres distance from others. For more information visit WorkSafe.

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.

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.

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

Your employer should support you to work from home, if you can work from home. 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 flexible working arrangements with your employer, including off-peak travel. If you are unwell, you must stay at home. If you have any symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), however mild,  get tested and stay home.

By working from home, you are helping to slow the spread of coronavirus (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?

If you can perform your role from home or another location and wish to continue working from home you should speak to your employer.

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

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

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

Yes. The 50 per cent return to work limitation does not include community-based and government support services (family violence, health and wellbeing support services) where face-to-face work is needed to effectively deliver the services, these services continue to operate.

Do normal workplace compensation rights apply?

If you believe you have contracted coronavirus (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 can continue to volunteer if the organisation you are volunteering for is still operating. 

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.

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.
  • Wearing a face masks protects you and your community by providing an additional physical barrier to coronavirus (COVID-19). Everyone must wear a face mask when required, unless a lawful exception applies. 
  • Children under the aged of 12 do not have to wear a face mask.
  • For Information about wearing face masks at schools, early childhood education centres and places of study in Victoria. Go to 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 in regional Victoria.

Can my child go to playgroup?

Yes. In-person playgroups in Victoria can operate. They can be held indoors or outdoors. Children and their parent or carer are each considered one person towards the two square metre rule. This is the only limit on the number of people who can attend, but only if electronic record keeping is undertaken. Otherwise, the four-square metre rule applies. 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:

  • 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 23 January 2021

Coronavirus Victoria

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