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Victorian businesses and sole traders face $200,000 fines for failing to report COVID-19 cases

MATTHEW ELMAS

JULY 30, 2020

SMARTCOMPANY

In case you missed it: the Victorian government is threatening to fine business owners and sole traders upwards of $200,000 if they fail to report a confirmed coronavirus case among their workforce.

New regulations under the state’s Occupational Health and Safety Act require employers to notify WorkSafe immediately when they become aware one of their workers has a confirmed coronavirus case after attending the workplace.

The measures came into effect on Tuesday, but WorkSafe Victoria only published information about the rules yesterday, outlining some hefty fines for non-compliance.

That’s fines up to $39,652 for an individual or $198,264 for a body corporate, according to WorkSafe.

“The infectious period begins on the date 14 days prior to the onset of symptoms or a confirmed diagnosis (whichever comes first), until the day on which the person receives a clearance from isolation from the Department of Health and Human Services,” WorkSafe said.

While the fines may seem steep, they come as Victorian authorities do their utmost to curb a second wave of coronavirus infections sweeping Melbourne.

A total of 723 new coronavirus cases have been reported across Victoria in the last 24 hours, and the majority of infections so far have emerged from workplaces.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has been urging employers to ensure their staff don’t rock up to work when they’re sick, amid concern many people are spreading the virus inadvertently when they should be self-isolating.

“The only way that numbers will come down, and do so steadily, is if people, when they are unwell, even very mildly unwell, go and get tested and get tested quickly. And then isolate until they get their test result,” Andrews told reporters on Thursday.

WorkSafe can be notified of a coronavirus case through their phone advisory service on 13 23 60.

Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash
Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business
Senator for Western Australia

 

10 July 2020

SUPPORTING YOUR MENTAL HEALTH

RESOURCES FOR SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS

 

COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on the Australian economy, in particular on small and family businesses. 

With the many challenges presented by COVID-19, understandably, you and your employees may be feeling stressed and anxious.

Mental health is complex. The fact that someone is not experiencing a mental health condition does not mean they aren’t going through a difficult time. Small and family business owners, like anyone else, are not immune to anxiety, stress and depression.

Good business health supports good mental health, but it can be hard to know where to look for resources that may assist you. 

If you’re feeling stressed or struggling to cope during COVID-19, you are not alone.

There are resources available to assist you and your employee’s mental health including:

  • Beyond Blue has developed free resources to assist you to find the information you need to feel confident in playing a support role. These can be accessed at headsup.org.au
  • The My Business Health web portal offers dedicated holistic support to you to manage your outgoings, to access financial support, to prepare, respond and recover as the economy reopens, and how to seek out emotional support.
  • Every mind’s Ahead for Business, is another online resource specially designed to help you understand your mental health, manage business stress and provides tailored recommendations, information and programs.

Importantly, immediate assistance is available through each of these resources via a phone number, chat line, or referral to other services if in crisis.

If you or your employees need support, and you aren’t sure where to turn to, please reach out to Beyond Blue’s dedicated COVID-19 Mental Health Support Service.

Information on the economic support measures available to businesses to get them through COVID-19 can be found on business.gov.au or by calling the Government’s contact centre on 13 28 46.

Regards

Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash
Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business
Senator for Western Australia

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