On the 20 March Unions NSW co-ordinated a briefing for Transport Unions with the Secretary TfNSW Rod Staples and Senior Officers from across the Transport cluster.
The unions were introduced to the CVID-19 Transport Taskforce lead Mr Mark Hutchins who advised unions the taskforce had been created with up to 40 leaders from across the transport agencies to co-ordinate the ongoing response to the emerging CVID-19 pandemic crisis.
The Unions had provided a list of urgent issues HERE prior to the meeting for the Transport Cluster agencies urgent attention.
The briefing outlined to Unions the whole of government approach with a Secretary’s – Senior officers committee linked to Health NSW for regular co-ordinated advice. These Senior officers will link into the TfNSW Taskforce –Unions Group for ongoing consultation and resolution of Employment, Health, Hygiene and Work Health Safety issues.
This group will meet weekly and a further teleconference occurred on 25 March to deal with the list of issues provided to TfNSW taskforce week commencing 16 March 2020. A list of agency leads contacts will be provided to Unions for urgent matters raised by delegates and members.
From the list the following responses were received –
Pandemic Plan Arrangements
A copy of the Premiers Circular titled C2020-01 Employment Arrangements during COVID-19 can be viewed HERE
Where employees who are not directly involved in the pandemic response cannot be gainfully employed at their normal place of work, remotely from home or at another office of the agency, such employees, where feasible and appropriate, may be temporarily required to work in another role within the same agency or in another government agency pursuant to relevant legislative provisions.
Unable to work due to illness
If an employee is sick, current sick leave entitlements and conditions apply. Where sick leave is exhausted, Agency heads may grant special sick leave on a case by case basis.
Each agency, in accordance with its business continuity plan, is to operate as close to normal as possible during the COVID-19 outbreak, taking account of any protection measures recommended by NSW Health.
Unless employees are on approved leave (e.g. sick, annual, family and community services, special) during the COVID-19 outbreak they are to undertake their normal duties either at their usual workplace, utilising flexible working arrangements at home, or at an alternate location.
Where employees are working from home whilst also providing care to a family member, it is expected employees can balance caring responsibilities with their ability to undertake productive work, or other leave provisions can apply.
Where there is a requirement to ensure that each workplace remains open at all stages, agencies are to deploy employees in other areas of the business where possible. Employees may be:
- required to undertake different work (most likely for essential work) as directed in their own agency; or
- temporarily assigned to other government agencies to assist priority service delivery by those agencies pursuant to relevant legislative provisions.
Exclusion from the workplace
Where an employee is not sick but is directed not to attend the workplace due to isolation requirements, agencies should identify options for employees to work from home during the quarantine period. Where work is unable to be provided to these employees, they are to be paid as normal and are placed on paid special leave for up to 20 days.
Unable to work
Up to 20 days paid special leave will be provided, before other leave entitlements need to be accessed, to employees who are unable to work because they are:
- caring for sick family members;
- caring for family members due to closure of schools and caring facilities; or
- unable to attend work due to transport disruptions.
After the 20 days of special leave has been used, employees may access accrued leave entitlements (sick, annual, family and community services, extended/long service leave).
Workplace is closed
Where the workplace is closed, flexible work arrangements should be considered either at home or from another office location. Where work is unable to be provided to these employees, they are to be paid as normal and are placed on paid special leave.
Work Health & Safety (WHS)
All government agencies will continue to have a primary duty of care under section 19 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW) (WHS Act) where relevant, as well as other obligations under the WHS Act generally.
Some other important issues –
Casuals – Where casuals have regular systemic rostered work and are required to self- isolate or need to be carers the Special leave provisions in the NSW Government sector’s ‘C2020-01 Employment Arrangements during COVID019’ will apply.
Bus Services Sydney metro and outer suburban – will go cashless
Exposure of Operational workers to the public – various groups of members are face to face with the public daily such as Compliance Operations Inspectors and Traffic and Transport Commanders. For COI members RMS has updated the Safe Work Method Statements to reflect NSW Health Hygeine requirements to protect staff from COVID-19 exposure and transmission. For other classifications TfNSW will investigate and come back to the PSA with an update. Basically if members feel that they are not properly protected then refer to your line manager and advise that –
All government agencies will continue to have a primary duty of care under section 19 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW) (WHS Act) where relevant, as well as other obligations under the WHS Act generally. If its Unsafe respectfully decline unsafe work activities.
Working from Home – The Secretary this week directed managers to offer Working from home options to many office based staff due to the social distancing requirements. Also vulnerable staff i.e. those with chronic health issues are to be prioritised with assistance to work from home.
These are some of the responses to the many issues raised by Unions. A further meeting will occur on the 27 March to deal with outstanding Union concerns.
Further Bulletins will occur to update members on ongoing consultation with the TfNSW COVID-19 Taskforce .