Public Service: Term 2 School Announcement, Vulnerable Workers, Telecommuting and More

Posted on April 15, 2020

We hope you had a safe and happy Easter long weekend.

State Schools – Term 2 Announcement

Many working parents would have seen the announcement yesterday by the Premier and Education Minister regarding the "home based learning model" for the first 5 weeks of Term 2.

There has been some significant policy change in how the government are categorising students who can attend state schools.

Which students can attend school?

The children of workers who are continuing to attend work outside the home will attend school on days that alternative home based supervision cannot be found for them. This might mean that some students are attending school on some days and then doing 'home-based learning' on other days. This is a change to the definition of 'essential worker' that was used in Week 10 for the pupil free days.

Students who are vulnerable will also attend school. That is defined as students who are currently receiving services from Child Safety, including children who are subject to a child protection order or children who are subject to a youth justice order; and children in designated Indigenous communities.

If you are working from home or telecommuting and you have school-aged children, the Department of Education are saying that your children should engage in home-based learning if they attend state schools.

We are working through options to propose to government about how workers can manage their work as they work remotely, along with their responsibilities to supervise children and home-based learning. This may need to involve the ability to work additional flexible hours (by mutual agreement), which would allow working parents to complete their work effectively.

All public servants are obviously essential and performing important work both at home and in the community, however it is clear that for this first five weeks the government is seeking to limit the number of students attending state schools, hence, the change in the definition.

Hours of work when telecommuting

It's important to note that your industrial agreements remain in force when you are working from home (or an alternative work location). This means your ADO agreements, and your ability to accrue at least one day off per month, remains an entitlement. If you have concerns about conversations being had with you by your manager about your ability to accrue time or requests for you to take leave please get in touch with us – we can support you with these issues. Call us on 1800 177 244 or email yourunion@together.org.au.

The government has released some guidance on how the pandemic Directive and associated industrial instruments work. You can see that here.

Employee Mobilisation Service

Together has been meeting regularly with the Public Service Commission and the Office of Industrial Relations about how work is changing and how the new Employee Mobilisation Service will work. Many public servants are already undertaking work in Community Recovery centres and others have been deployed to Queensland Health and some to the Queensland Police Service.

More of this work is likely to be needed and more public servants mobilised. Some public sector workers are already doing different work within your own agency or business unit due to the impacts of COVID-19.

We have been raising issues of concern about ensuring that if hours of work are to change that you are consulted, as are all union members impacted, and that you agree to any proposed change. It’s important you know your rights about shift work, overtime and weekend work.

We have also been raising issues regarding your rights if you are deployed away from your current work location, particularly if that is some way away, and to ensure that the appropriate travel arrangements and entitlements are in place.

The "Core" EB

We have received the following advice from OIR about the "Core" Agreement:

The employee ballot for the State Government Entities Certified Agreement 2019 (the Core Agreement) closed at 5:00pm last Friday (3 April).  The ballot returned a valid majority of eligible employees in support of the agreement.

A total of 15,283 employees or 46.1% (out of approximately 33,159 eligible employees) voted on the agreement. Of those employees who voted on the proposed Core Agreement, 97% voted in support.

Staying safe and well

It's important that while big announcements are being made and work and life look a lot different to this time last  year that you take time out to check in on your own health and wellbeing. It's natural that as dedicated public servants, that you are focused on others and their wellbeing, but as this is a long process you must also look out for yourselves. We hope you are all able to access some undisturbed time off soon, and that you can recharge.

The COVID-19 infection rate is looking much better, but the restrictions on work, school and social life will be in place for many weeks yet.

PS: Remember – we are here for you if you need us. Our experienced staff are assisting members with COVID-19 related queries every day. Call us on 1800 177 244 if you need advice or support.

1800 177 244
members@together.org.au