Private health newsletter

Posted on
June 1, 2020
Health Services Industry

Your fortnightly union update

COVID-19 is particularly concerning to health and community workers, who are the core of the response, so if any of these issues are on your mind we can help:  

• I’ve been asked to use personal or annual leave

• I’ve been asked to reduce hours

• Does my employer quality for the JobKeeper allowance?

• Is my employer following the JobKeeper rules?

• How does the JobKeeper allowance affect me?

• I’m not getting appropriate personal protective equipment and training

• My employer isn’t providing a safe workplace with social distancing rules 

You can discuss any of these issues with our team at HACSUassist on 1300880 032 or

Returning to work after COVID-19 closure

Employers wanting workers to return to their normal place of work must make sure it’s done safely, including re-establishing normal staffing, and section 19 of the WHS Act gives the employer the responsibility of ‘Primary Duty of Care’ which means they must protect the health of workers, customers, and the public.

HACSU recommends employers work with health and safety reps to conduct risk assessments, which should include training and education strategies and controls as well as any necessary personal protective equipment.  

There should be consultation about risk controls and their effectiveness before they’re implemented, and steps to address risks to all staff including identified vulnerable workers, and there may be a need for physical barriers such as clear plastic sneeze guards, improving ventilation or adopting flexible working hours, in addition to cleaning and hygiene practices.

Tasmania has specific workplace guidelines and templates and checklists and this link takes you to WorkSafe Tasmania’s COVID-19 Safe Workplaces Framework Page.

The new minimum standards require a workplace to:  

• Manage the risks of a person contracting or spreading COVID-19 in the workplace

• Implement and maintain a cleaning schedule across the workplace

• Have good hygiene procedures and practices such as washing and/or sanitising hands

• Ensure workers instructed to quarantine or self-isolate don’t come to work

• Make sure physical distancing requirements are met by workers,contractors and others entering, leaving or moving around the workplace

• Provide info, training and supervision on how COVID-19 risks are to be managed and ensure staff follow all processes and procedures

• Provide information and instruction to other people who attend the workplace about how they are to comply with your processes and procedures, and make sure they apply them

If you’re an HSR for your worksite please research this information and, if in doubt, contact HACSUassist on 1300 880 032 for help.


Health and community workers are at the sharp end 

As COVID-19 continues, we’re ensuring workers aren’t forgotten, particularly health and community workers who are critical to the response, and if you have questions about any of the following, we can help:  

• Which employers qualify for the JobKeeper allowance

• How the JobKeeper allowance affects workers

• Have staff received appropriate personal protective equipment and training

• Is the employer providing a safe workplace with rules for social distancing 

Feel free to contact our team at HACSUassist on 1300880 032 or

HACSU will continue to fight to protect workers, especially health and community workers, who shouldn't be disadvantaged by the pandemic.


Private pathology COVID-19 test threats 

At the height of the pandemic, private pathology companies threatened to refuse COVID-19 testing unless the federal government increased the test subsidy to $100 because the original $24.40 rebate hadn’t changed in 20 years and was actually less than the cost of the reagent used in each test.

Private companies were looking at losing more than $50 on each test due to the rapid price hikes for COVID-related personal protective equipment, nasal swabs and other virus-related medical supplies.

By April 1, strident negotiations had led to an increase to $100 for private pathologists, heading off a COVID-19 testing disaster.

Read the details here.


Unions push for 20 days family & domestic violence leave 

Every employee, including part-time and casual, is entitled to 5 days unpaid family and domestic violence leave each year and this comes from the National Employment Standards (NES).

If you’re on an award, all industry and occupation awards include the unpaid family and domestic violence leave and the modern award entitlement is for the same amount of leave as the NES entitlement.

If you’re on an agreement, employees covered by Fair Work Commission (FWC )registered agreements or enterprise agreements may be entitled to other paid or unpaid entitlements in their specific agreements, which will describe the entitlement and how to access them. If the modern award or any FWC agreement provides less than the minimum entitlements in the NES, the NES entitlements apply.

While some employers are generous and give 5-10 days paid with an additional 5-10 days at the employer’s discretion, unions want to see 20 days of paid leave available to every employee.

Someone who suffers from domestic violence often has little or no personal leave credits, which is directly related to their home life, not their quality of work, but can be seen as a bad employee so may not be supported by their boss.

Accessing paid leave allows someone to take time out to deal with the significant physical, emotional, psychological, legal and practical consequences of domestic violence which includes accessing medical care and counselling, meeting with police and solicitors, attending court, finding and moving into new accommodation, and arranging new schools or childcare.

Providing domestic violence leave raises awareness of the issue, reduces stigma, and demonstrates care for staff, and the offer of leave also increases the likelihood of an employee disclosing their issues at home, giving an opportunity for workplaces to further support them to stay safe while working and to get help before the situation escalates into something more dangerous.

So when your staff agreement comes up for negotiation, we hope members all band together to push for this just and very important claim.

Click here for more information.  


HACSU supporting you 

With this rapidly changing environment we’ve increased our working hours to ensure we’re available, and HACSUassist now operates from 8am – 8pm Monday to Friday, so you can better contact us regardless of how small you feel an issue might be. 

Thank you for all your amazing work doing during these unprecedented times. 

Please take care, look after you and your workmates’ safety, and please follow the rules.

For more information about this or any other industrial matter, members should contact HACSUassist on 1300 880 032 or email or complete our online contact form

Health Services Industry