COVIDSafe plans are mandatory for Victorian businesses with on-site operations. As one of our SME members found out recently, a visit from the DHHS almost landed them a significant fine because they didn’t have an official COVIDSafe plan template filled in.
On the 16 April, a Victorian ARA member was visited by the DHHS and subsequently received an ‘Improvement notice’, giving them until 5pm Monday 19 April to put in place a COVIDSafe Plan or face a potential fine of $19,826.40. To clarify, the potential penalties as identified in the notice are:
- In the case of a natural person (the individual), the offence carries a penalty of not more than $19,826.40.
- In the case of a body corporate (the business), the offence carries a penalty of not more than $99,132.
The store was visited when the owners were not present and staff were put on the spot, leaving them feeling quite distressed. The store did have some signage and available hand sanitiser, but they did not have a sufficient COVIDSafe Plan. The owner had referred to old guidance that reflected previous workplace directions, which has since changed multiple times. They, like many other business owners, had read an article from stating only stores with five or more staff required a plan. This is incorrect, the current Workplace Directions state that an employer must, for each work premises, have in place an official COVIDSafe Plan.
The ARA provided a free, one hour virtual consultation and talked the store owners through how to improve their COVIDSafe Plan and fulfil the requirements of the notice, which in their case included adding more signage to the store and amending their plan to reflect the current Workplace Directives.
About the Victorian COVID Safety Recovery Program
The ARA has received funding from the State Government of Victoria to offer retail support services to all Victorian-based businesses. You can find everything on our official website here. There are a number of free services available, such as monthly webinars and virtual consultations, delivered by the ARA on behalf of the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions. Visit our page www.retail.org.au/be-covidsafe for key information in our toolkit which includes relevant resources to support you in running a COVIDSafe business, past webinar recordings, blog posts, translated resources, as well as best practice guidelines for both retailers and businesses in the hair and beauty industry and more.