Employers must ensure teacher and education support staff safety as schools remain closed across southeast Queensland
The Independent Education Union of Australia – Queensland and Northern Territory (IEUA-QNT) Branch has condemned reports from members in some Queensland Catholic schools that their employer is placing their safety at risk by requiring attendance at closed schools today, following the widespread flooding and damage caused by ex-cyclone Debbie.
IEUA-QNT Branch Secretary Terry Burke said it was irresponsible and concerning that some non-government sector employers had sent communication to staff overnight and this morning that their attendance at school was requested today, when the directive from Education Queensland to all its staff was to stay at home.
“This really is an issue of safety,” Mr Burke said.
“Given the damage done in the last 24 hours, the far greater concern at this point should be to know that staff are safe at home rather than requesting them to be on site at school (including the travel they have to undertake to get there).
“The Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced yesterday that all state schools would remain closed today (Friday, 31 March 2017) and directed all non-government schools to follow suit.
“In her words, the decision was made because ‘we simply do not want to put people's safety at risk’ and yet that is exactly what some non-government employers are doing by requesting their staff to be at school today despite the fact they are closed and there are no students present,” he said.
Mr Burke said employees in Queensland Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran schools as well as some independent schools had access to Emergency and Natural Disaster Leave provisions within their collective agreement which staff could access where they are prevented from attending their workplace due to a natural disaster or emergency such as flooding, cyclones or severe storms.
“This leave allows employees to ensure the safety of themselves, their family and their property,” Mr Burke said.
“It also applies should employees be unable to travel to and from their home or workplace due to flooding.
“We have advised our members that fundamentally, should they have safety concerns for their family or property given the current situation, they should remain at home and inform their employer accordingly,” Mr Burke said.