eNews - 18 March 2020 - COVID-19 update


COVID-19 Update

The State School Teachers' Union of Western Australia has called for the release of detailed medical advice behind the decision to keep schools and TAFEs open for the time-being.

The SSTUWA has asked the State’s Chief Medical Officer and Minister for Education to write to educators explaining the reasoning behind keeping schools and TAFEs open.

Educators deserve the respect of a public explanation as to why schools and TAFEs should stay open and what will be done to ensure the safety of students and staff alike.

The conflicting medical opinions being expressed in various media are adding to the anxiety felt by many teachers and principals. Specific health and safety advice is essential.

Our members need proper information and reassurances at this time. Open and honest communication is crucial.

An explanation as requested by the SSTUWA is urgently required.

Workplace advice

Below is advice sent to employers by the Department of Education. If members believe they are at risk, they should discuss this with their principal.

  • Employees who are required to isolate themselves because they are in an “at-risk” group prescribed by the Federal Government will receive paid time off.
  • Employees diagnosed with COVID-19, or who are otherwise unwell and symptomatic, are to access their existing sick/personal leave entitlements
  • Employees caring for a member of their family or household required to self-isolate are entitled to access their personal leave entitlements
  • If the person they are caring for has COVID-19, the employee will be required to self-isolate and will be entitled to the additional paid leave referred to above
  • Where existing paid sick, personal and carer’s leave entitlements are exhausted, there is capacity to grant up to 20 days paid COVID-19 leave where an employee’s ability to attend work is impacted by COVID-19
  • Employees may seek to be absent because of a “reasonable” concern about exposure. This may include the elderly, those with a compromised immune system or diagnosed with a chronic medical condition. Principals and managers should discuss concerns with such employees and potentially approve access to existing paid leave entitlements, or a working from home (WFH) arrangement, having consideration for the relevant medical advice, and whether the employee is in a critical position and any operational requirements
  • Employees outside of these groups will not be given automatic or priority access to leave or WFH arrangements at this time. Further advice will be available in the COVID-19 specific WFH Guidelines. available soon
  • The COVID-19 leave applies to casual employees, based on their shifts averaged over the preceding four weeks. As casual employees do not accrue paid leave, this will apply in all scenarios where the employee is unable to attend work due to COVID-19, including a requirement to self-isolate, caring for a family/household member required to self-isolate, or an own COVID-19 diagnosis; and
  • Employees must continue to follow usual contact arrangements to advise if they are not able to attend work.

These are DoE directives. If you require additional workplace advice after discussing issues with your principal you can submit your query at www.sstuwa.org.au/contact or call Member Assist on 9210 6060 or 1800 106 683 between 8.30am and 4.30pm Monday to Friday.