As many of you will have heard this morning, the Victorian State Government announced a 7-day state-wide lockdown. This circuit breaker lockdown will begin from midnight tonight, Thursday, 27 May.
Following further consultations with the Department of Health, the Victorian State Government has now issued written guidance relating to today’s announcement of a circuit breaker lockdown. Whilst the building and construction industry remains largely open, there are some important changes relating to work on occupied premises.
Renovations in homes or apartments where residents are staying may not continue whilst the circuit breaker lockdown is in place. However, work on occupied premises can continue where it is deemed - by the builder or tradesperson - essential for the protection of human health, safety and wellbeing. This includes any work on occupied premises that are required to make a site safe for the duration of the lockdown.
We urge members to exercise common sense in implementing these measures, taking a risk-based approach, in keeping with the intent of the circuit breaker lockdown.
The latest FAQs can be found here.
Further information can be found on page four of the Acting Premier's statement here. An overview of the new restrictions is listed below.
We know this updated news will be disappointing for many of you, and we thank you for your patience in these rapidly changing times.
Master Builders Victoria will continue to issue guidance to members as soon as it becomes available.
If you need more information, please contact us on (03) 9411 4555 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There will be only five reasons to leave your home:
1. Shopping for necessary goods and services,
2. Authorised work or permitted education,
3. Exercise, a 2-hour limit, with one other person,
4. Caregiving, compassionate, and medical reasons
5. To receive a COVID-19 vaccination.
Other restrictions include:
- No visitors to your home other than an intimate partner. Single bubbles will be permitted. If you live alone, you can make a bubble with another person.
- No public gatherings.
- Restaurants, pubs, and cafes can provide takeaway only.
- Essential retail, so supermarkets, food stores, petrol stations, banks, bottle shops and pharmacies, other retail stores can provide click and collect.
- Childcare and kinders will be open as per the last circuit breaker lockdown earlier this year.
- Approved professional sporting events will proceed but proceed without crowds.
- Schools will move to remote learning, except for vulnerable children, and children of authorised workers.
- Higher education will move to remote learning only.
- Community support and recreation, accommodation, but there will be some exemptions that apply.
- Hotels, clubs, TABs and the casino will be closed,
- Indoor and outdoor entertainment venues, swimming pools, spas, saunas, indoor and outdoor springs, community venues, drive in cinemas, amusements parks and arcades, creative studios, art galleries and museums, tourism, tours, and transport, and auctions can only happen online.
- Aged care facilities, no visitors except for limited reasons.
- In our hospitals, visitors only for end of life, to support a partner during birth, or a parent accompanying a child.
- In terms of ceremonies, funerals, a maximum of 10 people plus those running the service.
- Weddings cannot proceed unless end of life or deportation reasons apply.
- Religious activities will not proceed other than through broadcast with a maximum of five people.
Click here to view the exposure site list.
Click here to download the MBV member authorised worker letter, Client & FAQs via our COVID-19 Information & Resources.
Click here to access COVID-19 Information & Resources.
If you or a team member has been at an exposure site, please action the following:
1.Team members that have been at any of the exposure sites should follow the DHHS instructions to get tested, and then isolate pending further instruction, or quarantine for 14 days.
2. Ensure that all other team members are completing the site declaration daily, declaring that they have not been to a listed exposure site.
3.Ensure that contact tracing is being done on site, electronic or otherwise. In the unlikely but possible event that any of the workforce tests positive from being at one of the exposure sites, DHHS will require this information from you, and it will speed up the contract tracing process if you have it ready to go.
4. Communicate these steps to team members via your usual means, such as toolbox meetings.
5. Encourage anyone who has symptoms or who has concerns to get tested.
Employment Implications during a lockdown
The Victorian Government’s recent announcement may have implications on your workforce. Depending on the circumstances, you may need to consider the following:
- whether employees can be reasonably redeployed elsewhere (including from home);
- whether any other arrangements can be made so that the work can continue; and
- Offering employees the ability to take paid leave, such as annual leave or accrued RDOs.
In the circumstances where the Government’s lockdown restrictions result in a stoppage of work on a particular project or site, employers may be able to stand down their employees. In stand down scenarios, an employer is not required to make payments for the period of the stand down.
A stand down can be lawfully implemented in the circumstances where the employee cannot be usefully employed due to a stoppage of work for which the employer cannot be reasonable held responsible. Before standing employees down without pay, employers should be satisfied that the following circumstances exist:
- There is a stoppage of work;
- The stoppage means that the employer cannot usefully employ the employee; and
- The employer cannot reasonably be held responsible for the stoppage.
An employer should also consider whether their Enterprise Agreement (EBA) or contracts of employment prescribe any additional stand down requirements before standing down employees.
We also remind our members that workers who are required to self-isolate while waiting for a coronavirus test result can apply for $450 Coronavirus Test Isolation Payment. Those who can’t go to work and earn income because they are required to self-isolate or quarantine can access the $1,500 Pandemic Leave Payment.
If you require further information, you can call Employment and Industrial Relations Team on 03 9411 4555.
Contractual implications of the new lockdown
If the new lockdown period in Victoria will cause delays in your project, you should consider whether you are able to claim an extension of time under the relevant provisions of your contract. Below is a summary of relevant provisions in Master Builders Victoria’s suite of contracts:
- MBV HC7 New Homes Contract & MBV HIC6 Home Improvement Contracts (Domestic Contracts) - Under Clause 15, the builder is entitled to an extension of time if the progress of the Works is delayed by, amongst other things: the general unavailability of any Materials necessary to carry out the Works; or any other cause beyond the reasonable control of the builder.
- MBV MW2 Minor Works Contract & MBV PS1 Pool 7 Spa Contract (Domestic Contracts) – Under Clause 14, the builder is entitled to an extension of time if the progress of the Works is delayed by any cause beyond the reasonable control of the builder.
- MBC DCP2 Domestic Cost Plus Contract – Under Clause 17, if, through no fault of the builder, the progress of the Works is delayed by: the general unavailability of any materials necessary to carry out the Works; or any other cause beyond the reasonable control of the builder.
- MBV GCC6 General Conditions of Contract & MBV CP1 Commercial Cost Plus Building Contract (Commercial Contracts) – Under Clause 19, the Contractor shall constantly use best endeavours to avoid delay in the completion of the Works by the due date; but shall be entitled to an extension to the Contract period and a corresponding adjustment to the Date for Practical Completion with respect to any delay caused by, arising from or attributable to any event or events beyond its immediate control.
It is the legal team’s opinion that the effects of a COVID-19 government-mandated lockdown are beyond the reasonable control or the immediate control of the Builder/Contractor, and may entitle them to claim an extension of time in the event of an actual delay . However, if doing so, the Builder/Contractor must notify the other party as soon as possible of any delay in accordance with the contract.
We note that the above clauses contain terms that are defined in the relevant contracts.
Contractual implication on future projects
If you are about to sign a contract, we remind you to ensure that you:
- provide an appropriate allowance for your construction period; and
- have specific special conditions dealing with the pandemic, such as special conditions to allow you to claim an extension of time due to delay caused by the pandemic and delay caused by shortages in materials.
If you require further assistance, please contact the Master Builders Legal team by calling the mainline on (03) 9411 4555.