Coronavirus (COVID-19) and early childhood services
The union has been in discussions with major NSW and ACT ECS employers; KU, SDN, Uniting, and Goodstart, requesting information on how they are dealing with the Covid 19 Virus.
The union’s view is that employees should be on personal/carer’s leave if they are themselves unwell or caring for a sick family member. However, in other cases where the employee is not unwell but is absent for self-isolation reasons, we are calling on employers to ensure the employee is not disadvantaged by providing the employee with two weeks ex gratia leave. It is in the public interest to delay the spread of the virus, so staff who may be unwell who remain away from work in the interest of students and staff should not be penalised.
The union understands the NSW Department of Education has taken a similar approach in granting 10 working days (two weeks) ex gratia leave to employees.
In the case of casual employees particular complexities arise. The union has called for the provision of paid leave for a casual employee who is forced to decline previously scheduled work or that the casual employee be provided with paid leave on a case by case basis, reflecting the usual number of days worked per week.
The union expects employers will generally be sympathetic to this approach - any employee with concerns should immediately contact the union.
Attached below is a copy of the letters sent to education directors by the IEU.
Read more general information about ongoing workplace responses to the Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Today (12 March) we received a reply from KU. They have informed the IEU that they are following Health and Education Department guidelines however, to date they have made discretionary decisions on a case by case basis.
They have now developed a more comprehensive policy, wherein they intend to make Personal leave available to permanent and temporary staff who:
- Choose to self isolate
- Are directed to self isolate
- Are supporting family members who meet specific criteria
- Are unwell
For Casual staff they have indicated they may grant paid leave, however, this will be on a case by case basis.
KU centres will continue to charge parents fees for children who are excluded.
KU have also provided a comprehensive FAQ document for staff.
The IEU has today (13 March) received a response from SDN regarding their workplace response policy.
At this time, SDN do not intend to offer the 10 days ex-gratia, or ‘special leave’, that the union movement has been calling for as a response from employers.
SDN have indicated that personal leave will only be made available to employees who are unwell, and not if they are isolated.
However, if an employee is instructed by SDN to self isolate, they will continue to be paid.
If a centre is closed, employees will be required to use annual leave, RDOs or take leave without pay. It is SDN’s position that, as staff are not unwell, they are not entitled to claim personal leave.
There is very little option in early childhood services to conduct work from home, so it is unlikely that such alternate work arrangements would be made available.
Casual staff decisions will reportedly be made on a case by case basis. SDN informs the union that they do not use regular casual staff, and so it is unlikely any leave entitlements will be made available to casual employees of SDN.
The IEU continues to encourage SDN, and all early childhood employers, to adopt compassionate and generous response measures to assist all employees, casual and salaried, during this uncertain and precarious time.