COVID-19 EDITION 14: DO I HAVE TO WEAR A FACE MASK AT WORK IN VICTORIA?

July 27, 2020

As of midnight 22 July 2020 all employees in Victoria must now wear a face covering at their work premises unless they fit into one of these categories:

  • the employee has a physical or mental health illness or condition, or disability, which makes wearing a face covering unsuitable;
  • the employee is communicating with a person who is deaf or hard of hearing and visibility of the mouth is essential for communication;
  • the nature of an employee’s work means that wearing a face covering creates a risk to their health and safety;
  • the nature of an employee’s work means that clear enunciation or visibility of the mouth is essential eg: teaching, lecturing, broadcasting;
  • the employee is travelling in a vehicle by themselves or where each other person in the vehicle ordinarily resides at the same premises;
  • the employee is riding a bicycle or motorcycle;
  • the employee is a professional sportsperson when training or competing;
  • the employee is consuming food, drink or medicine;
  • the employee is asked to remove the face covering to ascertain identity eg: a person may be asked by police, security, bank or post office staff to remove a face covering to ascertain identity or when purchasing alcohol or cigarettes; or
  • wearing a mask is not safe in the circumstances.

A face covering can be a mask or shield or scarf or anything that fully covers the employee’s mouth and nose to prevent infection.

Unless an employee fits into one or more of the above categories a failure to wear a face covering when directed to by the employer is likely to be seen as a failure to follow a lawful and reasonable management direction and can result in disciplinary action against the employee. In addition, the police can fine the employee for failing to follow Department of Health and Human Services directions without a reasonable excuse.

We also note the current Department of Health and Human Services directions also say that you must not go to the employer’s premises unless it is not practicable to work from home. If you are working at home you do not need to wear a face covering.

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