Victorian businesses that ask workers to come back into the office after working from home will be up for $10,000 fines under new rules.
As of Monday, businesses that open offices and ask workers to return to the spaces will face fines of $9,913, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has announced.
Our message is very clear: if you have been working from home - you must keep working from home.
From today, it will become part of the Chief Health Officer's formal direction – and it's up to all of us to make it happen.
— Dan Andrews (@DanielAndrewsMP) May 28, 2020
The ban aims to stop another wave of the lethal virus by preventing the amount of time people spend in offices and on public transport, and using shared facilities like microwaves and kettles.
It’s expected to stay in place until the end of June at the earliest, with staff encouraged to dob in bosses who breach the rules.
“Right now, we can’t have the usual number of people on our trains, trams and buses – it just isn’t safe,” Andrews said.
“And we know that if just half the people who normally use public transport start driving to work, we will see our freeways and other major roads grind to a halt.”
He said Victorians working from home will limit the spread of the virus.
“The majority of Victorians – and employers – are following the work from home advice.
“But for the small number that are not, this is about removing any shadow of doubt: if you can work from home, you must continue to do so.
“And because we’re asking this of businesses – this applies equally to workers in the public sector too.”
He said employees have an obligation to support their employers in working from home.
What does the future look like after coronavirus?
A study of a coronavirus cluster in a South Korean office highlighted how rapidly coronavirus can spread through offices, with one person spreading the disease to 93 colleagues.
The disease’s highly contagious nature has raised serious questions for offices, businesses and building managers.
Workers returning to work will likely have staggered starts and be required to observe social distancing rules in the office, with desks spaced far apart and hot-desking out altogether, experts have said.
Additionally, shared facilities like kettles and microwaves will need to be rethought and a growing number of workers will shift to work-from-home arrangements permanently.