A coronavirus outbreak at a Melbourne law firm is being probed following claims from a number of workers about its coronavirus practices.
HWL Ebsworth denied claims about its workplace practices during the COVID-19 after some employees said they learnt about their infected colleagues from a public press conference.
In March 2020, the nation’s largest legal partnership told the Financial Review it would assess its workers’ requests to work from home on a case-by-case basis, but preferred workers stayed in the office. It has since changed its tune.
A number of employees from the firm’s Melbourne office said they were not aware of six new positive cases until after the Victorian Health Chief’s announcement last Thursday.
In response to the claims, the firm stated that appropriate measures had been taken to ensure social distancing could be followed.
Managing Partner Juan Martinez has also backflipped on earlier statements that the best option was for employees to be in the office, saying all those who can work from home have been given the option to do so.
“Those team members that cannot work from home are operating on tailored arrangements, and our office environment has been set up to ensure that anyone that needs to work from the office can do so in a safe way,” Martinez said.
The firm insists that the six positive cases originated from a private function and that its workplace practices have had the support of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Worksafe Victoria has confirmed it is looking into the cases.
Premier Daniel Andrews revealed on Sunday that “80 per cent” of Victoria’s coronavirus cases had now been linked to workplaces, urging businesses not to flout work from home requirements.
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton says the cases are a reminder that office-based outbreaks can occur and has urged Melburnians to reconsider their need to attend work.