Law firm HWL Ebsworth has received barely veiled criticism from Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews for the way the firm approached the COVID crisis and the outbreaks at the firm’s office.
The firm has two floors in Collins Street, Melbourne and although Andrews did not name the firm he referred to one that had “become a bit famous”, being the only firm so far to have officially disclosed cases of COVID-19.
The city has endured tough lockdown restrictions at stage 4 level.
“[The firm] decided they would not allow staff to work from home when clearly the vast majority of that work can be done from home. Now [there’s] an outbreak at that very firm. This is serious. If you can work from home, you must work from home,” Mr Andrews said.
When looking at requests to work from home, the firm’s managing partner Juan Martinez said the firm “had no intention of following the lead of others like a lemming” when it came to workplace restrictions.
He told Lawyers Weekly that the initial case was a community transition that “unfortunately spread to four others as a result of the private function held outside our offices”. The cases are over two weeks old and fully contained with no further positive tests or people with symptoms or feeling unwell.
“Fortunately, all cases have resolved fully without any treatment needed with light flu-like symptoms that only lasted a few days,” Mr Martinez said.
“We have been proactive in dealing with this ahead of any contact from the Department of Health and in fact been complimented for the decisive steps taken early at a time when they have been frankly overwhelmed.”