Important: Release of the new Directive - Employment Arrangements in the Event of a Health Pandemic

Posted on March 17, 2020

Late yesterday, after followup from your union office, the new Directive - Employment Arrangements in the Event of a Health Pandemic – was released by the Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Service Commission Chief Executive.

 You can read a copy of the Directive here.

If you have questions about how these rules apply to you or a specific question about your rights at work during the current health pandemic please get in touch with your organiser or the union office. We are currently seeking urgent briefings and meetings with every Agency in order to put forward members' questions and concerns.

What does the Directive say?

Importantly, the directive says that:

"Government will make every effort to ensure that the employment conditions of its employees are not adversely affected during a health pandemic.

"Existing conditions of employment as provided for under relevant industrial instruments will continue to apply to employment arrangements during a health pandemic, including specific hours of work arrangements." (emphasis added)

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"Where workplace arrangements need to be varied to accommodate business continuity planning for a health pandemic, these arrangements will be, wherever possible;

  • made in advance and in consultation with employees, employee representatives and/or relevant unions where required;
  • within the relevant legislative framework; and
  •  applied fairly and equitably at the workplace."

The Directive specifically outlines an additional paid "pandemic leave", which is an additional 20 days paid leave if you are unwell, or caring for someone who is unwell, or if you need to take other caring responsibilities when you have exhausted your sick leave.

We still need to confirm with Directors General that they will pay casual staff, and in what circumstances. This is at the discretion of each Chief Executive/DG.

The Directive also says:

“Once Special Pandemic Leave is exhausted, employees will be expected to access their existing recreation leave then their long service leave entitlements.  Where an employee seeks to access accrued long service leave in accordance with this directive, the minimum continuous service period of seven years and minimum period of leave to be taken at any one time prescribed in the Ministerial Directive on Long Service Leave shall not apply."

You should also note this part of the directive:

"Employees will be paid their regular remuneration if they are willing and able to attend work but are directed by the employer not to attend work, subject to sections 14.6, 14.7 and 14.8 of the Directive."

You should read the Directive and scenarios and if you have any questions please ask your union office.

Several members have raised questions with your union office about their concerns for their own health. As a union office we are here to help you. If you need advice in raising these types of issues you should call our office.

Please look after yourselves and support your colleagues during this time. So many Together members are doing amazing work right now and will keep doing it in the time to come - on behalf of all of us, thank you.

1800 177 244
members@together.org.au