Face masks will be compulsory for many in Victoria after 11:59 pm on 22 July and it has raised some questions as to what this means for businesses who have employees that are required to attend their workplace. Let’s take a quick look at what your obligations and considerations are as an employer.
Previously the remit of surgeons and super heroes, face masks will need to be worn by EVERYONE living, working or visiting in metropolitan Melbourne or the Mitchell Shire from Thursday with few exceptions. The science shows us that face masks will reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19 and the hope is that it may help us avoid Stage 4 restrictions.
As an employer, the key considerations and obligations you have in relation to face masks include:
Exceptions to the rule
There are a handful of exceptions that will be accepted for not wearing a face mask. These include:
You just have to peek at social media and you will see that there are plenty of naysayers who see wearing a face mask as an intrusion on their freedom. They don’t meet any of the exceptions criteria but somehow believe that they are above the law and can potentially risk the safety of your business and that of their colleagues. You can choose to simply send such an employee home but you will be required to continue paying them, particularly when they are covered by the JobKeeper subsidy. This doesn’t seem fair when everyone else is playing by the rules but is there any other choice?
Well yes there is another option. In fact, you have the right to enact disciplinary action if an employee refuses to wear a face mask. As an employer you have the right to discipline an employee for failing to follow a lawful and reasonable direction or/as well as for putting the health and safety of their colleagues at risk. We suggest that if you are facing this situation you contact the HR Staff n’ Stuff team for advice or if you require support to manage such a situation. Ultimately, you have an obligation to provide a work environment that is safe and free of risks to health and an employee who refuses to practice safe processes should not be tolerated.
If you require more detail regarding the requirement to wear face masks within Victoria, please check out the Department of Health and Human Services website by clicking here.
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