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Home > News > 2020 > March > IEUA-QNT MEMBER ADVISORY #3: COVID-19

IEUA-QNT MEMBER ADVISORY #3: COVID-19

Topics : COVID-19

Holiday break should be brought forward if
our employers can’t manage COVID-19

The time for action is now – our union is calling on all school employers to either commit to immediate new safety and employee welfare measures – or extend the school holiday period to minimise the unacceptable risk of contagion in our schools.  

Our employers have so far failed to confirm desperately needed hygiene and leave arrangements. Our schools are being placed on the frontline responding to this health emergency with inadequate resources.

In the absence of the employers’ urgent commitment to new safety measures and special leave – we must move to an earlier Easter school vacation break.

Read our latest media statement calling for schools to bring forward the school holiday break if employers can't manage COVID-19.

Employers unable or unwilling to confirm appropriate arrangements

Our union has received limited and woefully inadequate responses from employers to our formal request earlier this week to confirm a number of critical matters. The vast majority of employers have yet to respond at all.  

  • What action have employers taken to ensure best practice hygiene and cleaning arrangements?
  • How are employers dealing with the workload implications of preparing and conducting online learning?
  • Has additional special paid leave been confirmed in cases of self-quarantine, directed quarantine or caring responsibilities?
  • What additional protections and paid leave is available for vulnerable employees e.g. those with existing health conditions, caring responsibilities or pregnant employees?

The silence from employers on these critical questions is deafening.

We are also seeking an urgent summit meeting to bring employers and our union together to deal with the challenges ahead.

School staff are not equipped to be on the frontline of this emergency

Our school workplaces are being placed on the frontline responding to COVID-19 without adequate resources and potentially putting employees’ health at risk.

Subjecting our members to this risk on the basis of only social distancing and handwashing (where even provided) is unacceptable.

We have school employees with pre-existing medical conditions.

We have school employees at an age of vulnerability. We have school employees with family members with serious immune deficiencies.

The risk is too great.

Many parents are already voting with their feet by keeping their children at home and a number of our non-government schools have already made the decision to finish the term early.

We can make this work - possible arrangements for extended vacations

Several Queensland schools have already announced arrangements whereby employees are remaining onsite without students to limit exposure and contact with others.

This can provide an invaluable opportunity for staff to plan and develop online or remote teaching resources.  

Any extended school vacation periods would need to also make provision for the children of health and emergency workers.

For our members with children, alternative work from home arrangements could be considered.

Special paid leave should apply to staff with caring responsibilities where working from home is not a viable option.

What leave can I access if I need to care for someone that has been directed to self-quarantine or is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19?

Our union would expect that an employee who has responsibility to care for immediate family members directed to self-quarantine or is caring for a person exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 that the employee is able to access relevant family leave provisions under their collective agreement.

Difficult times require difficult decisions

As the risk to school staff grows by the hour and by the day, governments and school authorities must act swiftly to protect the health of teachers and school support staff.

The risk to the health of education workers is too great to continue as we are doing.

UNION SUPPORT & FURTHER ADVICE

We encourage all members to contact our union for further advice and information on 1800 177 937 (QLD), 1800 351 996 (NT) or email memberalert@qieu.asn.au 

Previous COVID-19 Advisories: 

  1. Member advisory #1: 10 March 2020
  2. Member advisory #2: 16 March 2020

Authorised by Terry Burke, Independent Education Union of Australia – Queensland & Northern Territory Branch, Brisbane.