COVID-19 advice and resources
IEU-QNT Member Q&A: COVID-19 Vaccinations – read the latest member advice now.
Stringent health and safety precautions remain paramount for all schools throughout Queensland and the Northern Territory.
The inherent unpredictability and volatility of this health emergency reinforces the need for comprehensive precautions in all schools.
Having a COVID-19 response plan in place is a critical matter for all school employers and this was communicated to them by our union very early in Term 3, 2020.
When it comes to COVID-19 response plans, all employers must ensure they have good working relationships with their local health officer well ahead of any situation arising at their school or school sites.
This is essential so they can collaborate immediately in the event of any school closure and the implementation of associated cleaning and contact tracing processes.
Protocols and protections critical
There must be clearly established protocols for suspected infections within school sites.
Schools must be prepared to enact an emergency response plan in cases of suspected infections within a school community including protocols for decontamination and paid leave for employees during any closure.
A critical element is ensuring wage protections and support for casual staff.
Casual employees have generally been ignored in the various pandemic leave policies developed by employers.
The very nature of insecure casual work has proven to have potentially disastrous consequences interstate, and pandemic leave must be extended to include casual staff who are required to self-quarantine or in cases where a school closes.
Meeting with Chief Health Officer
Our union met with Queensland’s Chief Health Officer, Dr Jeannette Young, in the latter part of 2020 to consider member concerns about the current advice for the operation of Queensland schools.
These concerns included:
- the current medical advice for the operation of schools and its possible revision;
- the capacity of schools to practice social distancing;
- the best practice operational steps for a school in the event of a COVID-19 closure; and
- the process for engagement with stakeholders for updates/revision of medical advisories.
Maintaining our dialogue with employers and government as we face the challenges of COVID-19 is paramount and our union is always here for members when it comes to providing support and action to enforce safety measures.
Complying with COVID-19 tests should not disadvantage members
Employees should not suffer any financial disadvantage as a result of their compliance with health advice or employer directions.
Many of the current employer policies fail to address this specific situation of COVID-19 tests.
Employers should confirm the following where an employee is taking a COVID-19 test or awaiting their results for a return to work clearance:
- If otherwise fit for duty, the employee should be able to work from home.
- If work from home is not viable and the employee is otherwise fit for duty, they should be provided additional special paid leave to cover their absence.
A generous and compassionate approach by employers in these circumstances is essential to help minimise the potential spread of the virus.
National Work Safe Month highlights psychological safety
The pandemic’s psychological effects must also be considered and addressed by employers.
As part of National Safe Work Month in October 2020, our members reiterated to employers that their workplace health and safety responsibilities are to both the physical and psychological wellbeing of staff.
Teachers and schools support staff have become frontline workers in this pandemic but they like everyone else are dealing with the challenges of COVID-19 in their personal lives too.
Employee access to mental and wellbeing support services is another essential pillar in any response plan to this crisis and must be a priority for employers. Read our Health & Safety in Education Workplaces factsheet here.
Contact us for support
Industrial Fact Sheets & Member Advice
- IEU-QNT Member Q&A: COVID-19 Vaccinations >> here
- Health and safety in education workplaces >> here
- Virtual Chapter Meeting Guidelines >> here
- Advice for post-secondary education members on JobKeeper and JobSeeker >> here
- Alternative work duties for school officers and services staff >> here
- Working from home: your rights and responsibilities >> here
- COVID-19 Support Resources >> here
- Developing a growth mindset > > here
- Corona-anxiety: recognising warning signs in children >> here
- Engaging with students: where to draw the line >> here
- QCAA Open Educational Resources Database >> here
- eSafety.gov.au >>here
- The Girls in STEM Toolkit >> here
- Digital Teachnologies Hub: Online Ideas >> here
- COVID-Aware Kit
- Australian Unions Coronavirus Updates – Workers’ Rights, Tools & Resources for dealing with COVID-19
- Cleaning and disinfection alert
- Privacy at work
- Instrumental music program guidelines for managing hazards associated with COVID-19 (source: Queensland Department of Education)
- COVID-19 Working from Home (source: Australian Taxation Office)
- Working from home (source: Australian Taxation Office)
- Home office expenses (source: Australian Taxation Office)
- Coronavirus and Australian workplace laws (source: Fair Work Ombudsman)
Mental health support
The COVID-19 pandemic is understandably causing stress and anxiety for many people.
In addition to the support available through our union, we encourage members to seek additional support if they are in need.
Avenues for mental health support:
- Queensland Mental Health Week 2020 | www.qldmentalhealthweek.org.au
- Employer Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
- Beyond Blue – 1300 224 636 | www.beyondblue.org.au
- Lifeline – 13 11 14 | www.lifeline.org.au
- MindSpot – 1800 614 434 | www.mindspot.org.au
- Mensline – 1300 78 99 78 | www.mensline.org.au
- Kids Helpline – 1800 55 1800 | www.kidshelpline.com.au
Members should ensure they seek health advice from reputable sources such as the Department of Health.
If you require medical assistance, call your GP, medical clinic or the national COVID-19 helpline (1800 020 080) for advice.