While South East Queensland continues to endure the current flood emergency, essential workplace arrangements can be confirmed right now to help support employees and safeguard our school communities.
This weather event will have long-lasting impacts on countless IEU members and their families.
It is critical that employers respond to the challenges now emerging in our schools and kindergartens with compassion and understanding.
Safety must be the absolute priority
As previously reported at the outbreak of this emergency, the majority of IEU members have access to natural disaster leave.
This leave, won by members in collective bargaining negotiations, provides financial certainty and personal safety at times such as these. Sadly, many members will now need to access this leave as they begin the clean-up of their homes.
Please check with our union if you are unsure of the availability of leave at your workplace.
No employee can be required to attend work if their safety is at risk. This includes any employer requirement for an employee to travel to work in unsafe or risky conditions.
Contact our union immediately if your access to natural disaster leave has been denied or if staff are being subjected to unacceptable employer directions.
Status of schools for the remainder of this week
The Queensland Government has this afternoon announced that the vast majority of state schools in the affected local government areas will remain closed tomorrow (Tuesday, 1 March), with only some identified schools in the Sunshine Coast, Noosa and Lockyer Valley areas to reopen from tomorrow.
Our school employers should follow the cautious and well considered approach of Education Queensland and keep schools closed tomorrow.
An extensive risk assessment conducted at each worksite will be crucial to any decision to reopen schools in our sector given varied localised flood impacts across a wide area. Operational issues such as available staffing and disruptions to public transport for staff and students must also be considered.
We know that some kindergartens and non-government schools have sustained significant damage to classrooms and facilities. Many of these schools are now giving consideration to remote learning options if onsite attendance is not possible for an extended period.
Regardless if work is undertaken remotely or onsite, many employees will simply be unable to undertake duties this week due to property damage, caring responsibilities or power outages.
Employers must show patience and understanding, whether leave entitlements are available or not.
IEU support is always here
If you have been personally affected by this flood emergency, please know that our union, and everyone of our 17,000 members, are with you.
Individual IEU members have already been in contact volunteering to help their member colleagues in any recovery clean-up or if they need emergency assistance or accommodation. Our union will also be developing a range of financial support measures for affected members.
This is what community is about. This is what our union is about.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if we can help in anyway – please call FREECALL 1800 177 938 or email firstname.lastname@example.org