Under the Victorian Government’s Stage 4 ‘Stay at Home’ restrictions for Metropolitan Melbourne, from 11:59pm Wednesday 5 August, workplaces in Melbourne must be closed and employees required to work at home unless their work is part of a permitted activity.

The Victorian Government has identified that the critical services to support the provision of banking services, credit and payment facilities are permitted activities and allowed to open, while ensuring they comply with COVID safe work plans.

Specifically, these critical banking services include

  • services and activities relating to the exchange (including through electronic means) of security property, including settlement of property transactions;
  • treasury, finance and risk functions to enable the bank to meet its prudential, legislative and policy requirements;
  • all other services required to enable banks to meet their legal, regulatory and contractual obligations, including any laws, by-law, rules, regulations and the like of any government or government agency or a legal entity owned by such bodies or self-regulatory organisation established under statute or a stock exchange; or
  • credit reporting agencies and related functions providing information for the assessment of credit applications.

Mortgage valuation services to support banking, finance and insurance activities fit within this definition – a position supported by the Australian Banking Association. This should be cited in the ‘Permitted Industry’ and ‘Permitted Role for on-site work’ fields in the permit template.

The permitted industry definition should also apply to other stakeholders involved in the mortgage valuation process, including real estate agents providing access to properties for an inspection. The API is working with other industry associations to ensure consistency in this regard.

You should be mindful of your safety and the safety of clients or occupants and follow your employer’s safety protocols when undertaking work. Members should familiarise themselves with the API’s state of emergency and significant valuation uncertainty protocols which may need to be utilised when undertaking work during these restrictions.

From 11:59pm on Wednesday 5 August, employers that require their staff to attend a work site must issue a worker permit to their employees – this is the employer’s responsibility. The permit template can be downloaded here. To view an example template, click here.

Penalties of up to $19,826 (for individuals) and $99,132 (for businesses) will apply to employers who issue worker permits to employees who do not meet the requirements of the worker permit scheme or who otherwise breach the scheme requirements. There will also be on-the-spot fines of up to $1,652 (for individuals) and up to $9,913 (for businesses) for anyone who breaches the scheme requirements. This includes employers, and employees who do not carry their worker permit when travelling to and from work.

Employers can issue a worker permit to their employee if:

  • the organisation is on the list of permitted activities
  • the employee is working in an approved category for on-site work, and
  • the employee cannot work from home.

An employee must not use a worker permit, even if they have been issued one, if:

  • they test positive to coronavirus (COVID-19) and are required to self-isolate
  • they are a close contact of someone who has tested positive.
  • Information employers will need

Each employee required to be on site must receive an individual worker permit with the required details. Employees must carry the worker permit and should carry photo identification when travelling to and from the workplace. A worker permit can be shown electronically to authorities such as a photo, or scanned copy, on a mobile device.

At this stage only valuations related to banking services are permitted by the Victorian Government. For other valuations you will need to refer back to your client for instructions on how to proceed, this may mean proceeding with a desktop assessment.

Resources

For more information about the Victorian Government’s policies, including health advice and community and business restrictions, please visit www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus

Information about the Permitted Worker Permit, including a downloadable template can be found here www.justice.vic.gov.au/permitted-worker-scheme

To access API’s COVID-19 Hub, including COVID-19 protocols and guidelines please visit www.api.org.au/covid-19-hub/

Information about COVID safe work plans can be found on the Safe Work Australia website at www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/covid-19-information-workplaces

To view the recording of the API’s recent wellbeing webinar please visit the recording page.