The Victorian Government has announced significant restrictions on access to childcare from 11.59 pm today, Wednesday 5 August. Childcare services will only be available to children of permitted workers and vulnerable children in Melbourne as part of Stage 4 restrictions. However, while permits to enable access to childcare have now been released, the Government is yet to publish the legal directions which underpin them. Consequently, key concepts (including precisely who qualifies as a permitted worker) remain unclear.
From Thursday, permitted workers will be required to complete one of two forms to obtain childcare, which must be signed off by their employer, as follows.
- The Permitted Worker Permit (including childcare) form, which now includes an addendum for permitted workers who are still required to attend work on site and who do not have anyone else in the household who can supervise their children (including because the other parent is also a permitted worker or because it is a single parent household).
- The Access to Childcare and Kinder (Working from Home) form is for permitted workers who are working from home, are unable to supervise their children because of their duties and who do not have anyone else in the household who can supervise them (including because the other parent is also a permitted worker or because it is a single parent household).
You can access the childcare permit forms here.
These forms make the circumstances in which a "permitted worker" will be eligible to access childcare much clearer.
What remains uncertain is precisely who is a "permitted worker". The permit forms refer to the "Permitted Worker Permit Scheme Directions", which we expect will define who is a permitted worker and other key concepts. However, at the time of publication, these were yet to be released. The Government has published a list with examples of workplaces which will be closed and which will remain open. This provides some guidance as to who is likely to be a permitted worker, but there remain a number of grey areas.
The other matters on which we are waiting for formal directions to provide clarification include:
- whether childcare for permitted workers can be provided at home instead of by a childcare provider or kindergarten, including by nannies, babysitters or other family members and friends
- whether parents that are not permitted workers will be entitled to access childcare at home (whether provided by a nanny, babysitter or family member)
- how childcare is to be obtained for "vulnerable children", which are said to include those engaged in the child protection system (but otherwise not defined)
We will publish a further update addressing these issues once more information comes to hand.
Our team is actively monitoring and considering the implications of legal and regulatory developments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can find our COVID-19 collection here.
All information on this site is of a general nature only and is not intended to be relied upon as, nor to be a substitute for, specific legal professional advice. No responsibility for the loss occasioned to any person acting on or refraining from action as a result of any material published can be accepted.