Together Union Update for QBCC Members
I hope you are all keeping well as we continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, and its impact on our working lives. Over the last week or so, the government has made a number of announcements about the easing of restrictions, prompting a number of agencies across the public sector to speculate about bringing staff back to the office from working from home, or otherwise changing their current working arrangements.
Working from the Office vs Working from Home
We are seeking whole of government/whole of sector guidance about any proposed moves back to working from office environments as opposed to having a large number of staff working from home. The rules in relation to “social distancing” mean that there will be significant limits on the use of lifts, the use of meeting rooms and that some pods or desk spaces will not meet the requirements for ‘social distance’.
There will also need to be increased and ongoing flexibility for workers who may have symptoms like a sneeze or occasional cough who should therefore not be working from the workplace but may well be fit enough to work from home.
It’s also important that workers have access to appropriate materials and set up both in the office and in the home office if you are required to work across an A/B team or similar arrangement.
If you have any concerns about your team or work area returning to more office-based work please let me know.
Hours of Work Arrangements
Together members across the public sector have also been negotiating greater flexibility for workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Members in a number of agencies have chosen to develop opt-in agreements that temporarily extend the spread of hours in the award, usually from the standard 6:00am – 6:00pm to 5:00am – 10:00pm. This is designed to allow employees to attend to new life commitments during the usual work day, but still complete their standard hours each day, if they are able. For example, an employee might choose to take a lengthy break in the middle of the day to manage their home schooling commitments, and start earlier and/or finish later to make up their 7.25 hours. The agreements have been worded carefully to stress the temporary nature of the changes, and to ensure that no employee has the potential to be disadvantaged as a result of the increase in flexibility.
Your delegates have indicated that members would be interested in putting an agreement like this in place at QBCC, so I am preparing to discuss this with your employer. If you have any questions or concerns, or would like to see something particular addressed, please let me know.
Core EB Update
Last month the State Government Certified Agreement ballot was voted up in the all-staff ballot with a 97% “yes” vote. This is great news and tells the government that the overwhelming majority of staff want them to certify the agreement with the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission.
As the government have not yet taken steps to certify the agreement, the Together office has written to the Deputy Director General and head of the Office for Industrial Relations and asked that he countersign the Core Agreement so that it can be certified.
We are continuing to seek engagement with government and are seeking certification. We’ll keep you updated on any progress.
Look after yourself!
We know the important work you and other public servants do on a daily basis is critical to maintain important services throughout Queensland. Our hats off to you for your perseverance during this trying time. However, it’s also very important to take a moment to check in on your own health and wellbeing and also the health and wellbeing of your friends, family and colleagues.
As always, you can reach me by email, or on 0449 203 692. I work part time, so if I am unavailable and you require urgent assistance, please contact the union office on 1800 177 244, Monday to Friday, 8:30am – 5:00pm, and we will find the best person to help you.