Why is paid pandemic leave so important in our schools?

Paid pandemic leave has already proven to be an essential COVID-19 safety precaution, it helps limit COVID-19 transmission by ensuring employees have the financial stability and job security to:

👉 Safely isolate at home if they are deemed a close contact;

👉 Recover at home if they have been infected; and/or

👉 Care for a family member who has to isolate or who is COVID-19 positive.

What arrangements are most school employers offering?

While specific pandemic leave policies can vary, school employers are refusing to provide immediate access to paid pandemic leave for employees impacted by COVID-19.

The common concern across most schools is the requirement for employees to first exhaust all of their accrued personal / sick leave prior to receiving any additional paid pandemic leave.

Some other employers, particularly single site schools, refuse to commit to any additional pandemic leave even after an employee has used all of their sick leave.

Refusing upfront pandemic leave fails the fairness test

❌ Our already limited sick leave accruals will be unavailable at other times of need, family care or for other illnesses.

❌ Schools are classified as ‘high risk settings’ – making school-based transmission now sadly inevitable.

❌ Term-time and part-time staff already suffer reduced pro-rata leave accruals.

❌ Valuable sick leave will be depleted due to an illness that may well have been contracted in the classroom.

Hey school employers! This is what best practice pandemic leave looks like…

Step 1 👉 The consideration of alternative duties (such as work from home) if possible in the circumstances.

Step 2 👉 The provision of paid pandemic leave if alternative duties are not possible or if the employee themself is unwell.

Step 3 👉 The preservation of sick leave accruals as an important safety net for other illnesses or caring responsibilities.

Your Chapter Response – Urgent Member Resolution

Your local IEU Chapter Rep will be asked to coordinate this urgent Chapter Resolution at your school.

Please note: EREA Chapters are not required to endorse this resolution given the action already underway on this matter with your employer.

Separate details will be provided to Reps to coordinate this member resolution at their school.

How have employers previously responded to our paid pandemic leave asks?