For a couple of months we’ve had calls from public sector workers about having to use personal leave when sent home for a COVID-19 test because they've been honest about having mild symptoms.
This isn’t what was agreed when we talked about special support for workers during the pandemic and it doesn’t meet the award definition required for personal leave because of sickness anyway, so we’ve been trying to get more specific advice from the employer.
We’ve insisted that if someone has mild symptoms that wouldn’t normally make them unfit for work, they must be tested as a precaution during the pandemic, and shouldn’t have to use their own personal leave - they should be able to work from home or be paid as normal if that’s not possible.
Well gladly, that’s what will happen, and the following advice was provided to agencies this week:
• If a worker is displaying mild symptoms, where they historically would not have considered themselves too unwell to attend work, they are to advise their manager that they are booking a COVID-19 test and will remain in self-isolation pending the result.
• The period from this notification to test result is to be paid as normal hours as per the worker's roster or usual pattern of work with working from home where possible.
• If the test result is positive, the employee is to be paid personal leave as per award entitlements and if personal leave is exhausted, special pandemic leave until they are able to return to work.
• If the test result is negative (worker receives notification via a test message from public health), then the worker is to return to work. If symptoms have developed such that they are too unwell to attend work, they are to be paid available personal leave as per award entitlements.
• Any worker who is unwell and unable to work is to be paid available personal leave as per award entitlements regardless of pending COVID-19 testing.
We know employees have been sent home for COVID-19 testing because of mild symptoms that didn’t incapacitate them for work, so if you were one of these and you had to complete a personal leave form, contact your manager and ask for your personal leave to be re-credited.
If you need more info or are having issues related to COVID-19 testing and personal leave, please contact HACSUassist on 1300 880 032 or email firstname.lastname@example.org