The Director of Schools has sent the following advice to principals in the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese
In what is a great leap forward in the rights and entitlements of Catholic school staff in Maitland and Newcastle, the Director of Schools has provided guidance to principals to enact a range of positive safety measures advocated for by the union, including provisions allowing all vulnerable staff to work from home wherever possible.
Working from home – Vulnerable and at-risk
As of today, 25 March, vulnerable and at-risk persons as identified by NSW Health below should work from home wherever possible.
NSW Health advises that based on what we know so far about COVID-19 and what we know about other coronaviruses, those at greatest risk of serious infection are:
- People with compromised immune systems (eg cancer)
- People with diagnosed chronic medical conditions
- Elderly people
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, as they have higher rates of chronic illness
- Very young children and babies*
*At this stage the risk to children and babies, and the role children play in the transmission of COVID-19, is not clear. However, there has so far been a low rate of confirmed COVID-19 cases among children, relative to the broader population.
Process for working from home – Vulnerable and at-risk
The safety, health and wellbeing of our staff remains paramount. Staff identified to work from home ie vulnerable or at-risk, should follow these steps:
- Consult with your line-manager or principal re working from home
- Complete the working from home checklist and provide it to your principal
- The principal the contacts the Assistant director, in discussion with the Assistant Director a decision is made and provides all relevant documentation to HR - cdmn-services-HRfirstname.lastname@example.org
- Your line-manager or principal will be in touch to establish regular catch-ups
- Access the Diocese intranet and CSO website for updates
Provided approval has been received from the principal and Assistant Director, vulnerable and at-risk staff will be continue to be paid as normal.
The principal has a responsibility to ensure the staff member has meaningful work to undertake from home such as preparing lessons for the learning platform, using technologies to interact with students, written tasks, planning units of work, tasks for online delivery, creating resources for the classroom, correction of assessment tasks, policy developments or duties as assigned by the principal etc.
Pregnant women in the workforce
Provisions in relation to leave and safe work for pregnant employees exist under the Fair Work Act and in individual industrial agreements.
NSW Health provide the following advice re pregnant women - The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) is the peak body for obstetrics and gynaecology and women’s health in Australia and New Zealand. RANZCOG has updated its advice and information for pregnant women and their families about COVID-19.
We believe we are currently operating under exceptional circumstance but that the following is the correct approach at this point in time.
Evidence required: Normal practice is a medical certificate is required in these circumstances. We realise this is extremely difficult at this time and a medical certificate is temporarily not required. All other terms and conditions required under the Fair Work Act remain in place.
Pregnant women in the workforce should follow the same process for working from home as vulnerable and at-risk outlined above.
The NESA COVID-19 Response Committee is aware of and will urgently provide advice on the following issues:
- Work placements for VET students
- Students working on a group drama, dance or music performance
- Students completing projects and major works
Canteens at schools are provided an exception to closure. A risk assessment should be conducted for each school canteen however, with the hygiene guidance already provided, school canteens can continue to operate.