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‘You must work from home’: Workplaces face fines if staff return before end of June

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Workplaces which tell employees to return to work before the end of June may face fines under a tough new state government approach.

Andrews government advice that workers who have been working from home must continue doing so has been elevated to an order under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act.

“If you have been working from home, you must keep working from home,” Mr Andrews said while announcing the change.

“We have the power to enforce that.

“If an office that has, currently, 80 per cent of their staff working from home, decided ‘we’ll just ignore the Chief Health Officer and have everybody come back Monday’ then they would be in breach of the public health orders, and there are significant penalties.”

Mr Andrews said keeping public transport patronage down is a key reason for the tough approach to returning to work.

“We can’t have a situation where our public transport system is running at 100 per cent capacity,” he said.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton says the state government can fine businesses for forcing workers to go to the workplace, even if the state of emergency, which expires on Sunday, isn’t extended.

“There will be consideration about the extension,” he told Neil Mitchell.

“There can be public health orders from me, but the state of emergency gives it broader scope.”

Professor Sutton indicated businesses, not employees, will be likely to bear the brunt of fines, if they are issued.

“It’s really for businesses,” he said of the working from home order.

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