NSW Schools: General Assistants/Farm Assistants: getting prepared and staying safe during COVID-19 - Public Service Association

NSW Schools: General Assistants/Farm Assistants: getting prepared and staying safe during COVID-19

The PSA has been in touch with many members over the last few weeks to check in on how they are going. We have heard many stories of school communities helping each other during extremely difficult circumstances. 

General Assistants are in a unique position as you already work in a way that assists in social distancing.

Your safety

The Principal is responsible for the safety for all staff on site. If you have concerns for your health and safety, please raise them immediately with your Principal or supervisor.

If the concerns are not addressed, please lodge an incident with the Incident Report and Support Hotline on 1800 811 523. Keep a record of the incident number and a copy of the report lodged.

Contact the PSA if no action is taken to address your concerns. 

We know there are some difficult situations to manage while social distancing and we can provide guidance and assistance where necessary. As a general rule you should follow all social distancing and hygiene measures outlined by NSW Health. 

You can read up on these and other information HERE

How does the Special Leave apply?

The PSA advises all GA and FA members to discuss your personal circumstances with your Principal as soon as possible so that they can be taken into account.

If viable, you should continue to work for as long as possible at the school.

We are not sure when the current situation will change or how long the pandemic will last. It is important members do not pre-emptively access their Special Leave

Some further information on when you can access Covid-19 Special Leave is below:

  • Paid special leave of up to 20 days for people who need to be excluded from workplace/placed in quarantine
  • Paid special leave of up to 20 days for people with caring responsibilities or who have transport disruptions (without needing to exhaust other forms of leave first)
  • For people who are sick – they apply for sick leave as usual, if they exhaust sick leave they can apply for special sick leave
  • Provision to work flexibly/remotely/at other locations where at all possible.
  • In the event of school shutdown there is no requirement to apply for any form of leave, you will continue to be paid.

If you have any questions about the application of Special Leave contact the PSA Member Support Centre on 1300 772 679.

Staying safe over the school holidays

The PSA reminds all GAs to ensure that a Working Alone Risk Assessment has been undertaken for the holiday break. It is more important than ever that a comprehensive risk assessment is undertaken prior to any GA or FA working alone and you should speak with your Principal about this now.

Due to the current situation, the PSA advises additional precautions and safety measures be put in place in relation to contractors and other staff who may be required on site during the holidays. 

As always, GAs should not be expected to supervise contractors. This is well outside the GA Role Description and could pose an additional risk during the current crisis.

The PSA’s recommended best safety practices when you are working alone during the vacation period are that the school should provide you with a mobile phone. You should text in with your supervisor each time you report for duty and text again when you leave for the day.

If your supervisor does not receive a text within 15 minutes of your usual start and finish times they should call you to check you are safe. If there is no response, further actions should be taken to determine you are safe including a physical check of the workplace.

This process is to protect you and, should any accident occur, your supervisor can arrange for assistance immediately.

All staff who are going to be on the school site during the holidays must have keys and the codes for the alarm systems.

General Assistants’ and Farm Assistants’ work

All General Assistants and Farm Assistants are reminded that these are two separate positions with different Role Descriptions, pay rates and, importantly, associated training. You should not undertake work that you have not been trained to do as this can have Work Health and Safety implications for you and others.

If you are a General Assistant and are directed to work as a Farm Assistant, you should contact the PSA immediately.

Help your colleagues stay safe, protected and supported with the PSA!

Do you know someone who is not a member? 

You can support the work of the PSA and delegates to get better outcomes for everyone just by asking your colleagues to JOIN.

PSA contacts

Brett Hammond General Assistants and Farm Assistants Organiser

Member Support Centre
1300 772 679

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