Date posted: 25/09/2020 5 min read

Impact of restrictions in Victoria on CAs and their clients

It is expected that further directions and guidance will be issued by the Victorian Government and CA ANZ will continue to keep CAs up-to-date on new developments.

In Brief

  • Accounting services in metropolitan Melbourne must close for onsite business with work from home arrangements applying
  • CA ANZ is looking to clarify the impact on accountants as part of a joint approach with other professional associations.
  • CA ANZ has also engaged with key regulators such as the ATO and ASIC on assisting CAs and their clients impacted by the Stage 4 restrictions

CA ANZ is closely monitoring events unfolding in Victoria as the State Government implements Stage 4 restrictions in metropolitan Melbourne which commenced from 6pm on 2 August and Stage 3 restrictions in regional Victoria, which will commence from 11.59pm on 5 August.

Victoria's Stage 4 business lockdown list

According to the Department of Health and Human Services Victoria's Stage 4 permitted work premises list, accounting services in metropolitan Melbourne must close for onsite business. Work from home arrangements apply.

An exception for "sole operators" initially announced by the Victorian government has since been removed from the list.

CA ANZ is looking to clarify the impact on accountants as part of a joint approach with other professional associations.

It is expected that further directions and guidance will be issued by the Victorian Government and CA ANZ will continue to keep CAs up to date on new developments.

Permitted worker scheme

From 11:59pm Wednesday 5 August, workplaces in Melbourne must be closed unless:

  • the workplace is part of a "permitted activity", or
  • all employees are working from home.

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.

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.

Although accounting services are not a "permitted activity", CAs should refer to the Victorian Justice Department website for details about the Permitted Worker Scheme in advising clients.

The Victorian Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions has confirmed that accountants and bookkeepers in metropolitan Melbourne will be allowed to collect essential records from their office, even if it requires travelling beyond the 5km radius of their home.

Only the worker required for the activity must attend the workplace and they must have a valid permit for the time required to complete the task. They cannot stay and work from the workplace.  

The worker will need to issue themselves with a permit (if accessing their own office) stating the reason, such as “collecting essential equipment or supplies necessary for working from home”.

Further information on attending a workplace under the Stage 4 restrictions is in our FAQs below.

Victorian Justice Department

Learn more about the Permitted Worker Scheme including the permit form which eligible employers can download and provide to workers engaged in permitted activities.

Read about the scheme

Victoria's Stage 3 restrictions

If you live in regional Victoria, including Mitchell Shire, the Stage 3 restrictions which commenced from 11.59pm on Wednesday 5 August provide that you can leave home for work or study, if you can’t do it at home.

If you need to travel through metropolitan Melbourne to get to work, this is allowed. If you stop, it must only be for one of the be only for food and essential goods or services, to provide care, for compassionate reasons or to seek medical treatment.

Our advocacy

CA ANZ understands the adverse impact Stage 4 restrictions will have on CAs, their clients and the organisations they work for. The ramifications are particularly severe in situations where face to face contact and sighting of hard copies of documents are necessary to work effectively. In some situations, access to COVID-19 support measures may be hampered by the restrictions where the applicant cannot be supported by an accountant acting as the intermediary.

Representations made prior to the imposition of Stage 4 restrictions by accounting professional associations seeking the "essential services" categorisation for our profession in a COVID-19 environment have been unsuccessful. The Victorian Government clearly feels that the risks posed by the pandemic must be confronted with the broadest restrictions possible.

CA ANZ and the other professional associations have now made further representations to the Victorian Government for work-around arrangements during Stage 4 (for example, allowing travel to collect and distribute correspondence from the office or post box, engage in activities that necessarily involve on worksite presence). You can find our joint letter to Premier dated 5 August 2020 below.

CA ANZ has also engaged with key regulators such as the ATO and ASIC on assisting CAs and their clients impacted by the Stage 4 restrictions. In a tax context for example, we have called for lodgement extensions, deferred tax payment arrangements and tolerance for delayed responses to current tax reviews and information gathering requests. We expect supportive statements to be made by regulators very soon.

Top 5 Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can CAs in metropolitan Melbourne still go to their office to work or collect work-related items under the Stage 4 restrictions?

According to the Department of Health and Human Services Victoria’s Stage 4 workplace list, accounting services in Melbourne must be closed for onsite business from 6pm on Sunday 2 August 2020 unless the workplace is part of a "permitted activity" or all employees are working from home.

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.

Penalties 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 be on-the-spot fines for anyone who breaches the scheme requirements. This includes employers and employees who don’t carry their worker permit when travelling to and from work.

The Restricted Activity Directions (Restricted Areas) (No 6) allow for Closed Work Premises to permit persons to attend that premises for the purpose of essential maintenance; to ensure the premises is closed safely for the duration of the restricted activity period; and by permitting employees to work from the place where they ordinarily reside to operate the premises.

The Victorian Government’s sector guidance FAQs advise that whilst a business that is not listed as a permitted workplace (such as accountancy services) cannot work onsite, you can collect essential equipment or supplies if they are necessary for working from home. A worker may also access the premises for carrying out emergency maintenance of necessary infrastructure, such as IT servers, or for physically backing up and rebooting an IT server.

The Victorian Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions has also confirmed that metropolitan Melbourne accountants and bookkeepers will be allowed to collect essential records from their office, even if it requires travelling beyond the 5km radius of their home.

Only the worker required for the activity must attend and they must have a valid permit for the time required to complete the task. They cannot stay and work from the workplace.  

The worker will need to issue themselves with a permit (if accessing their own office) stating the reason e.g. “collecting essential equipment or supplies necessary for working from home”.

Mail should be sent and received electronically where possible. Physical mail should no longer be sent or received. If it is unavoidable, it should be diverted to workers’ homes or to a post office box. A business may have a document logistics room that opens mail and scans documents directly related to their products or services. Workers cannot work in the mailroom but could collect the equipment to allow them to continue working from home.  

Under the government’s roadmap for reopening, most businesses, including the professional services sector, are not permitted to reopen until 26 October 2020.

2. Can CAs in regional Victoria still go to their office to work or collect work-related items under the Stage 3 restrictions?

From 11.59pm on Wednesday 5 August Stage 3 "Stay at Home" restrictions apply in Regional Victoria and remain in Mitchell Shire. The only permitted reasons to be out is shopping for food and essentials, caregiving, exercise, and work/study if you can't do it from home.

If you need to travel through metropolitan Melbourne to get to work, this is allowed. If you stop, it must only be for one of the be only for food and essential goods or services, to provide care, for compassionate reasons or to seek medical treatment.

If you are unwell, you must stay home and you should also get tested for COVID-19.

3. How will Quality Reviews be conducted in Victoria, following the COVID-19 Stage 4 restrictions?

We appreciate that current circumstances are creating difficulties for many practices.  In order to assist members at this time, CA ANZ has introduced greater flexibility into the review process, including remotely conducted reviews.  

When conducting a review remotely, a reviewer does not physically visit a practice.  If you have any queries regarding your review, please discuss this directly with your reviewer or email the CA ANZ’s quality review team at quality.reviewenquiries@charteredaccountantsanz.com.

4. Can an insolvency practitioner go and see the company in person? 

If you are in metropolitan Melbourne refer to FAQ 1 above. If you are in Regional Victoria refer to FAQ 2 above. Please also refer to the FAQs from the Australian Restructuring Insolvency & Turnaround Association (ARITA).

5. Where can I find resources to help with reporting season, auditing remotely and the impacts of COVID-19? 

Please refer to CA ANZ’s Playbook, Financial Reporting and Audit Guide: Financial reporting and audit issues stemming from COVID-19. This comprehensive guide will help you answer client questions and includes links to several videos, articles and other resources available.

COVID-19 Victorian Government restrictions

The VIC Government has announced COVID-19 restrictions- Stage 4 for metropolitan Melbourne and Stage 3 for regional Victoria.

Read the restrictions

Your wellbeing

Our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available to you during this time. This confidential program supports you and members of your family through counselling services and as a member of CA ANZ, up to three sessions are provided free of charge. Available 24 hours, seven days a week, you can call Converge International on 1300 687 327.

Wellbeing Resources

Running your CA practice

CA ANZ has developed a range of resources and useful information on how to run your CA practice in a COVID environment.

Practice Resources

Search related topics