19 March 2020
You can find Professionals Australia’s standard guidance for members on your rights at this time HERE. Please share this email with your colleagues.
Your Professionals Australia officials and delegates have met and consulted with agencies about the particular impacts to staff. Discussions have occurred across the APS at agencies including Department of Defence, Airservices Australia, Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Murray Darling Basin Authority, Sports Australia, Geoscience Australia, Department of Industry Science Energy and Resources, the Department of Agriculture Water and the Environment.
We’re happy to report that these discussions have resulted in some piece of mind and this newsletter will cover those developments. Members have been reporting that the communication flow from management has improved this week, while some agencies had been slow off the mark up until now. Last week Professionals Australia called on the government here to develop a service wide response, we’re please to see this developing.
Working from home and leave associated with COVID-19
Most of the queries received from members so far relate to instances where a worker isolates themselves on the basis of their thinking that they may have contracted COVID-19, or is required to provide care for children or household members.
The Australian Public Service Commission’s current advice is being observed by agencies (ie there is a single source of advice for leave arrangements available).
- It is recommended that employees not be required to obtain a medical certificate for self-isolating unless they become unwell.
- If an employee advises they have been diagnosed with COVID-19 the employee should be given access to paid Personal Leave for personal illness in accordance with the agency’s workplace arrangements. If the employee has insufficient credits to cover the medically advised period, paid Discretionary or Miscellaneous Leave should be provided for the period.
- Where an employee is required to provide care or support for a family member due to a facility shut-down (such as a school), work from home arrangements or paid Carer’s leave should be provided. Miscellaneous Leave should also be provided.
If your local management chains are advising you contrary to the APSC’s advice, please let us know so that we can address this.
Casuals and precarious employment
Professionals Australia and the broader union movement have been involved in a national campaign to secure paid leave arrangements to casuals and employees in precarious work. Due to the current extraordinary circumstances the APS has agreed to extend paid arrangements should also be extended to casual employees who are required to isolate due to COVID-19 exposure or who contract the virus.
Your employer will also likely have communicated with your regarding their own organisational responses. If you’re unsure about the advice your employer is giving you, members are advised to consult your local PA representative and information from authorities. As much as possible we should check the facts available, and make educated responses.
While it is important to have the facts at hand, we should remember that “pandemic” describes a disease’s spread, not its severity. You can head over to our online community to join the discussion about the virus and our community response with members from across federal agencies, health, pharmacy and medical science professions. Join the discussion HERE.
If members have concerns or queries about specific directions being given by your employer as
part of their coronavirus response, please contact your local PA official or our Workplace Advice and Support line as email@example.com