Public sector newsletter

Posted on
April 22, 2020
in
Public Sector

We are union. We stick together and look after each other. It’s what we do.

We’re all living in the most uncertain time of our generation. As events unfold here, on the mainland and across the globe we’re all concerned about the effect the COVID-19 virus will have on our lives, our work and our communities. If we stick together and help each other, we will get through this.

Our new fortnightly public sector newsletter will give you an overview of what we’re doing to make sure you, your clients and our communities remain safe.

In unity,

Tim Jacobson

At-risk workers

As the response to the pandemic continues to evolve there are additional measures being put in place for workers who are at risk, and these will commence immediately.

An at-risk worker is anyone who falls into the high risk category – over 60, underlying health condition, any other factor that may place an individual who has direct patient contact at risk.

These workers will be contacted by their manager and human resources to have a discussion about additional protections, including things like redeployment, non-clinical work, working from home and, in some cases, a direction to not attend the workplace.

No worker will be directed to stay at home without pay.

If you’re at risk but haven’t been contacted by your manager, we suggest you let them know you’d like a discussion about additional measures to keep everyone safe.

If you’re contacted by your manager and you want help or advice please contact HACSU assist on 1300 880 032 or assist@hacsu.org.au

Thank you for all of your exceptional work.

 

Special Pandemic leave – big win for members

We salute all public sector workers for the important work you continue to do and, as COVID-19 evolves and Tasmania’s confirmed cases grow, we’ve been extremely busy ensuring you aren’t forgotten during this crisis, especially health and community workers who areat the sharp end of the response.

We’ve had success in getting the government to agree on extending special leave to cover pandemic leave for 20 days with discretion for more.

This is a great win, especially for casuals who’ll receive payment based on their average earnings, that your HACSU fought hard for in difficult times.

The premier has repeated in no uncertain terms that if you can work from home you should - it’s a safe model that helps everyone by reducing potential exposure in your office space and helps with the distancing rules too.

Some employees are more compromised than others and have circumstances that put them in the higher risk category so this make  good sense that these employees to work from home.

If you can do your work from home the procedure is to put in a request form that will be reviewed by your manager on a case by case basis, and your request shouldn’t be denied for petty reasons, because the world is very different to what we’re used to and the added stress of being in an unsafe environment when it’s not necessary is something you don’t need.

There is still a requirement to use your personal leave in most circumstances, but if you run out or you meet certain other criteria, you may can access special pandemic leave.

•  If directed to self-isolate or stay away from the workplace, you’ll be paid your regular salary without using your leave entitlements.

•  If required to provide emergency support to children or a member of your household, you will be required to use your own personal leave entitlements. If you don’t have a sufficient balance or you run out of personal leave, your agency will accept an application for special pandemic leave.

•  If unwell, including if you contract COVID-19, you’ll be required to use your own personal leave entitlements. If you don’t have a sufficient balance or run out of personal leave, your agency will accept an application for special pandemic leave. Remembering that you can make a claim for workers compensation if you contract any illness, including COVID-19, in the course of your duties.

•  If you’re a casual or sessional worker and you’re asked to self-isolate or stay away from the workplace, you’ll be paid for any shift you’d already accepted and your agency will accept an application for special pandemic leave.

•  Payment for special pandemic leave will be your normal rate of pay, and for casuals it’ll be based on regular hours if you work regular and systematic hours, or based on an average of the last two pay periods or based on the two pay periods that occurred prior to the declaration of a pandemic.

HACSU will continue to fight for arrangements to protect workers, especially health and community workers,who should not be disadvantaged by the pandemic.

 

Pandemic response and the effect for workers

As you continue to do your important work protecting our communities around the state we’ve been busy working with agencies to ensure protections for workers, and as the response to COVID-19 changes there are measures being put in place for workers who are at risk.

The biggest issue is whatadditional measures are being implemented to ensure everyone’s safety and why there’s so much inconsistent direction around personal protective equipment -regardless of the circumstances you have a right to work in the safest environment possible, and your employer has that obligation.

We’ve had some weird and wonderful decisions and issues to deal with regarding PPE – in some places there’s been no soap, hand sanitiser, gowns and ECG dots and there have been raids and other measures to try and ensure enough for both workers and the community – so we’ll make sure the government does everything possible to procure more and they’ve assured us they’re doing all they can.

We’re ensuring that agencies apply consistent provisions relating to working from home, we’re making sure no worker is being disadvantaged because of redeployment or stand down and we’reworking every day with agencies to ensure contingency and other planning and implementation are continually occurring.

We’re all unsure of what the future holds, but you can be sure that every day your HACSU is loudly making sure that workers aren’t left out.

 

Your pay rise is coming

Most public sector awards and agreements have been registered at the Tasmanian Industrial Commission and,while some have been registered longer than others, the good news is you will receive your pay increase in the next pay.

If anyone deserves a pay rise it’s you, and for most workers that’s an increase of 2.3% which applies from the first full pay period in December 2019.

We’ve been told that all that can be done will be done to get your back pay processed by May 20 although,like all things at the moment this is very much subject to change, but we’ll be doing all we can to make sure that commitment is followed through on.

 

COVID-19 WHS and PPE

As the pandemic evolves, with more confirmed cases in Tasmania, we’re working hard to address all the issues as they come up, and many members are contacting us about workplace health& safety and the government’s pandemic advice.

In simple terms, your employer must identify and control any risk and must consult with you and your union when doing that.

Expert advice must be heeded and what happens in your area depends on your job and industry, but the bottom line is there should be additional safeguards to protect you from possible transmission of the virus no matter what workplace you’re in, and there should be measures to make sure you’re coping with the extra stress the situation is causing.

It’s great to hear that many workplaces are doing all they can to ensure workers are as safe as they can be,but equally disappointing to hear that some bosses are using the pandemic as an excuse to place workers at unnecessary risk.

Tragically, many of our friends and loved ones have lost their jobs or worse, and we know how devastating that can be for families and communities, so as the situation evolves make sure you’re looking out for your friends and colleagues - we’re all stronger when we work together and we need to do that to make it through this the best we can.

If you have concerns about any advice you get in your workplace, particularly if it contradicts advice from public health officials or us, you can discuss that with our team at HACSUassist on 1300 880 032 or assist@hacsu.org.au

HACSU supporting you

With this rapidly changing environment we’ve increased our working hours to ensure we’re available to hear from you, and HACSUassist now operates from 8am – 8pm Monday to Friday, so feel free to contact us regardless of how small you feel your 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 assist@hacsu.org.au or complete our online contact form

Public Sector