Important Advice for members in Education – Workers and COVID-19

Posted on March 25, 2020

Today we are all in it together as we seek clarity on how announcements last night impact on your work today. We know it’s a worrying time, and that you are all doing your best to support each other and your community.

The Department have been putting out new and updated advice. Some of that advice importantly relates to people who are vulnerable workers – please see the definition of "vulnerable" below. If you want to check in about disclosing a vulnerability or need advice or support please get in touch with us at this email or on 1800 177 244. We are here for you.

It's important that you self-identify if you are feeling unwell, have any of the virus symptoms and go home sick.

If you are in the vulnerable category – tell your manager and seek to work from home in line with the DG's advice or take sick leave in order to adhere to this advice.

We are also seeking guidance and clarification and we'll keep you posted. We know there is a lot of information, and also, that information will change.

We know that the senior department officers are going to continue to provide updated advice and we will share this with you.

More proactive advice from the Department about telecommuting or alternative work options for vulnerable staff, and in fact all staff, will be released soon. We also know that the issue of extending the school break or additional pupil free days in the lead up to the end of Term is under active review all the time.

We also know that advice is coming out soon about itinerant staff (eg. Therapists) to be conscious of not going to multiple sites if you can avoid it. This advice will be released today, we hope.

When we know something - we'll share it with you. Take care of yourselves, and each other.

See below the latest advice from the Department  - note that this has been prepared with schools in mind, but read Principal as "manager" in the below if you don’t work in a school.

In union,

Kate, Thom, Sean and Remi

Department advice

What is the definition of a vulnerable person?     

Queensland Health has determined those most at risk of serious infection if they contract COVID-19 are:

  • Staff with compromised immune systems (such as people who have cancer);
  • Staff with chronic medical conditions;
  • Staff over the age of 60 particularly when combined with a chronic medical condition;
  • Staff who are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, particularly over the age of 50.

What should I do if I have a vulnerable employee in my team?   

Consideration should be given to withdrawing vulnerable staff members from face to face classroom instructional roles and, where practicable, providing them the opportunity to participate in alternative arrangements such as professional development, curriculum planning, resource development or other teaching and learning related activities at school.

Consideration can also be given to vulnerable staff members working from home completing similar duties. 

Principals have the discretion to approve flexible working arrangements.

Principals can exercise discretion regarding the provision of supporting medical documentation.

Where a vulnerable employee is unable to participate in any form of alternative arrangements they may apply for special leave. 

Can I send an employee home if they present to work unwell?    

Where an employee presents at work unwell they can be directed by the Principal to go home.  Leave will be deducted from the employee's sick leave balance.

My employee is required to care for a family or household member who is a vulnerable member of the community, what leave are can they take? 

If a staff member is required to be the primary carer for a vulnerable member of the community they can apply for sick leave.

1800 177 244