COVID-19 Health Emergency - advice and resources for members
The current COVID-19 crisis in Australia raises questions for workers regarding their rights and entitlements under scenarios ranging from work closure to forced quarantine.
The health and safety of everyone in the school community is paramount in the face of COVID-19.
All employers have a responsibility to:
- ensure a safe workplace
- observe industrial provisions
Our union believes schools should close to students in the interests of employees' health and safety.
Where schools remain open (either to students or where only staff will be on site) we are urging employers to put protections in place in accordance with our Charter of Action to protect teachers and school support staff.
School employees with underlying health conditions, those aged 60+, First Nations peoples aged 50+, those who are pregnant and those who provide care for elderly relatives within their own household should, with immediate effect, be permitted to work from home or granted ex-gratia paid leave.
There must also be an orderly transition to emergency schooling arrangements.
Student free days at the end of Term 1 will allow teachers and school support staff time to develop the remote learning modules and programs which are needed to facilitate ongoing student learning given the new reality facing our communities.
Current advisories and resources for members are available below. We will continue to update this page with latest advice.
An important message from IEUA-QNT Branch Secretary Terry Burke.
The COVID-19 crisis has caused significant challenge over recent weeks.
Our union has been with you and will continue to be with you.
We're asking school employers to commit to essential support for employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, including special pandemic leave, full pay during school closures and protections for vulnerable staff.
Click here to view our full scorecard.
Schools and kindergartens in Queensland have moved to student free mode from Monday, 30 March.
The Independent Education Union has been active on this matter and union representatives met the Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan on Wednesday, 25 March 2020.
A key element of the discussions was a declaration of student free days across the country.
The Queensland announcement, in brief, is in the following terms:
- Schools and kindergartens will not be open for students generally, but provision is made for some students (e.g. special needs students, or the children of required workers in required workplaces).
- Staff will generally be in attendance for the balance of the school term.
- Vulnerable school employees can be provided with alternative work arrangements.
We commend the Queensland government for taking this step.
Our union's view is that non-teaching staff should continue to be employed for the duration of student free days as per existing employment (including term-time staff).
Other matters raised with the federal minister included:
- Supplies of thermometers, sanitiser, etc. must be accelerated.
- Hybrid onsite/offsite learning may be put in place with strong caveats as to workload and acceptable staffing arrangements.
- Our union should be part of conversation with curriculum and assessment authorities in each jurisdiction.
- ELICOS and ECE sectors will have particular needs to be addressed.
The IEUA-QNT has been advised that a small number of independent schools are considering standing down support staff without pay in Term 2 because of issues arising from COVID-19.
IEUA-QNT Branch Secretary Terry Burke said our union is calling for an immediate stop to any such action by independent schools.
“Schools delivering online education are not shut and as such we are calling for an immediate halt to any threatened stand downs in our schools,” Mr Burke said.
“Our union is seeking for all staff in schools and early childhood education centres to remain fully employed, even while schools and centres are operating with reduced numbers of students.
Read full story >> here
Member Advisory #8 - 3 April 2020
Direction from Chief Health Officer about travel from workplace to home centre >>read now!!
Member Advisory #7 - 1 April 2020
Wage protections and paid leave still needed + Job security and employee wellbeing the urgent priority >> read now!
Member Advisory #6 - 30 March 2020
Working remotely: FAQs for teachers and school officers >> read now!
Member Advisory #5 - 24 March 2020
Charter of Action to protect school employees + vulnerable staff should be removed from classrooms >>read now!
Member Advisory #4 - 23 March 2020
Our union calls for immediate nation-wide end of term for all school students >>read now!
Member Advisory #3 - 19 March 2020
Holiday break should be brought forward if our employers can’t manage COVID-19 >>read now!
Member Advisory #2 - 16 March 2020
Advice on ensuring safe workplaces and managing quarantine arrangements >>read now!
Member Advisory #1 - 10 March 2020
Work health and safety laws and industrial relations considerations >>read now!
Member Advisory #3 - Tuesday, 31 March
Member Advisory #2 - Thursday, 26 March
Member Advisory #1 - Friday, 20 March
The COVID-19 pandemic is understandably causing stress and anxiety for many people.
In addition to the support available through our union, we encourage members to seek additional support if they are in need.
Avenues for mental health support:
- Employer Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
- Beyond Blue – 1300 224 636 | www.beyondblue.org.au
- Lifeline – 13 11 14 | www.lifeline.org.au
- MindSpot – 1800 614 434 | www.mindspot.org.au
- Mensline – 1300 78 99 78 | www.mensline.org.au
- Kids Helpline - 1800 55 1800 | www.kidshelpline.com.au
For a full list of support resources click here.
Members should ensure they seek health advice from reputable sources such as the Department of Health.
If you require medical assistance, call your GP, medical clinic or the national COVID-19 helpline (1800 020 080) for advice.
- QCAA Open Educational Resources Database >> here
- eSafety.gov.au >>here
- Teach Starter >> here
- Behind The News (BTN) >> here
- ABC Reading Eggs >> here
- The Girls in STEM Toolkit >> here
- Digital Teachnologies Hub: Online Ideas >> here
- Australian Government page
- Department of Health
- Department of Home Affairs (for the latest information in your language)
Our union is available to assist any member in need of support.
We encourage all members seeking advice to contact our union:
- 1800 177 937 (QLD)
- 1800 351 996 (NT)
- Email: email@example.com
For a full list of support resources click here.
- 31 March 2020 - Union calls for stop to stand downs of school support staff
- 26 March 2020 - Move to student free mode for Queensland schools commended
- 23 March 2020 - IEUA-QNT calls for immediate nation-wide end of term for all school students
- 19 March 2020 - Holiday break should be brought forward if schools can't manage COVID-19
In cases where staff currently remain on school sites, either with or without students, we call on all non-government education employers to adhere to safety measures and employee welfare initiatives.
We have written to all education employing authorities in Queensland and the Northern Territory seeking their immediate endorsement of our Charter of Action.
You can read full details of the employer Charter of Action here.
The charter sets out the following areas and specific employer commitments that must be confirmed and adhered to:
- Vulnerable employees working in schools
- Hygiene and safety standards
- Workload considerations, hours of duty and technology
- The provision of paid special leave to all employees
- Australian Unions Coronavirus Updates - Workers' Rights, Tools & Resources for dealing with COVID-19 (webpage)
- JobSeeker payments and Coronavirus supplements
- Key points on the JobKeeper payment
- Temporary early access to superannuation fact sheet
- Coronavirus Alert WHS
- COVID-19 Update (4 March 2020)
- Advice to support children and young people (source: Queensland Department of Education)
- Cleaning principles for COVID-19 (source: Australian Government Department of Health)
- COVID-19 Working from Home (source: Australian Taxation Office)
- Working from home (source: Australian Taxation Office)
- Home office expenses (source: Australian Taxation Office)
- Coronavirus and Australian workplace laws (source: Fair Work Ombudsman)
- AMA Lastest information on COVID-19 (source: Australian Medical Association)