Your rights and responsibilities

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Private Sector and Aged Care

Last updated 22 July 2021.

Please note the advice provided on these pages is intended as general advice. If you have specific concerns, please contact the Duty Officer to discuss your particular circumstances by email Duty.Roster@anmfsa.org.au

Additional information can be found at the Fair Work Ombudsman website. 

A. This will depend on the reason that you were sent home.

If you are sent home from work to self-isolate to avoid a risk of contaminating others, then you are serving your employer during this time, even if you are not working. Where an employer directs a full-time or part-time employee not to work, the employee would ordinarily be entitled to be paid while subject to the direction. That entitlement “to be paid’ while directed not to work, is an entitlement “to be paid’ without reduction of any leave balance.

Casual employees are not entitled to be paid. The ANMF, along with other Trade Unions, is calling on the Federal Government to provide financial support for all workers impacted by COVID-19.

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If you are sent home from work to avoid social contact, then you should make arrangements to work from home (if possible). If that is not possible, then you are following a direction from your employer and as such are serving your employer during the time that you are home. As above, a full-time or part-time employee would ordinarily be entitled to be paid while subject to the direction. Casual employees are not entitled to be paid.

If you are sent home from work because you cannot be usefully employed (there is no work for you to do) because of COVID-19, then your employer may stand you down, with or without pay. If you are stood down without pay, you may be able to access accrued annual leave entitlements. Some enterprise agreements in the private acute sector permit the employer to direct an employee to take annual leave where the hospital is at low occupancy or low activity, or during periods of shutdown. If you experience the above, please contact the ANMF (SA Branch) Duty Officer on 8334 1900 to get further advice.

A: The Federal Government's current policy, outlines that all overseas travellers returning to Australia will have to be quarantined for a period of 14 days at a location determined by the Government.

The South Australian Government maintains a list of current travel restrictions on its website available here.

Requirements to self isolate depend on which state or territory you are entering from, and whether you are considered an essential traveller.

 

There are very limited exceptions for essential travellers entering or returning to South Australia.

Employees should contact their employer immediately if they are unable to attend work because they have returned from overseas or interstate and are required to enter quarantine or to self-isolate.

In the first instance, we would encourage members to discuss working from home options with their manager. If working from home is not practicable, then members can apply to use any paid leave entitlements they may have accrued.

If an employee cannot work because they are subject to a government order requiring them to self-quarantine, the employee is not ordinarily entitled to be paid (unless they use leave entitlements). In this case, their inability to work is because of a government order, not because of their employer. Members should consider whether their entitlements may be impacted by any applicable enterprise agreement, employment contract or workplace policies, which may be more generous.

The ANMF, along with the Australian Council of Trade Unions, are calling on the Federal Government to provide financial support for all workers impacted by COVID-19.

A. Whether you can be directed to undertake different duties will depend on your employment contract and what has been agreed to in terms of the scope of your duties.

For example, if you were employed as a Nurse Educator, but your contract or job specification includes, ‘providing clinical nursing care’, then you could be directed to perform clinical nursing duties.

 

If you experience the above, please contact the ANMF (SA Branch) Duty Officer on 8334 1900 for further advice.

A: In the first instance, we would encourage these other staff to explore options with their employer for working from home. These staff who have been sent home are serving their employer during that time at home, even if they are not working. Where an employer directs a full-time or part-time employee not to work, the employee would ordinarily be entitled to be paid while subject to the direction. That entitlement “to be paid’ while directed not to work, is an entitlement “to be paid’ without reduction of any leave balance.

Casual employees are not entitled to be paid. The ANMF, along with other Trade Unions, are calling on the Federal Government to provide financial support for all workers impacted by COVID-19. View the media release here.

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A: A casual employee is entitled to accept or reject offered shifts at will. There is no obligation for a casual employee to accept a shift.

However, it is recommended that you discuss your personal circumstances with your employer to explore any options for being rostered in a different ward or worksite, so as to avoid a reduction in your income.

A. An employer has an obligation to make sure everyone at work is safe, so they can ask for a medical clearance where it is reasonable. In the case of COVID-19 concerns, this will depend on the circumstances, but should really only be in a situation where:

  • A worker may have been exposed to a confirmed case of coronavirus; or
  • A worker may have travelled, transited or left a specific country as per above.

A. Private sector employers cannot direct an employee to take annual leave unless the relevant enterprise agreement or modern award permits such a direction. Some enterprise agreements in the private acute sector permit the employer to direct an employee to take annual leave where the hospital is at low occupancy or low activity, or during periods of shutdown.

If you experience the above, please contact the ANMF (SA Branch) Duty Officer on 8334 1900 to get further advice.

A. Employers should take positive steps to assist workers to manage any increased family responsibilities arising from COVID-19.

You can request for flexible working arrangements if you are responsible for caring for a sick child or adult, or a person with disability or a person who is frail and aged. Your employer must discuss and genuinely consider your request and only refuse on reasonable business grounds which will include a consideration of the operational needs of the workplace. A written response should be provided to you.

A. Workers who contract COVID-19 in the course of their employment may be able to claim workers' compensation benefits for any time lost or medical care required.

However, it may be challenging to prove that work was the significant contributing cause of the injury in light of the growing number of community infections. You should contact the Duty Officer for assistance if you are unable to work due to contracting COVID-19 at work.

A. The South Australian Government’s State Coordinator’s current Direction provides that all persons entering South Australian must self-quarantine for a period of 14 days at a suitable location.

In the first instance, we would encourage members to discuss working from home options with their manager. If working from home is not practicable, then members can apply to use any paid leave entitlements they may have accrued.

A. Members with pre-existing health conditions or concerns, or are aged over 65 years are encouraged to have a discussion with their line manager in the first instance to negotiate suitable work arrangements including location and/or duties.

The Fair Work Act 2009 allows employers to stand employees down without pay in certain circumstances when employees cannot be usefully employed.

If you and/or your colleagues are stood down, you should contact our Duty Officer by emailing Duty.Roster@anmfsa.org.au immediately.

There are several alternatives to standing down staff, which employers should also explore. These include:

  • access to accrued paid leave (e.g. annual leave);
  • negotiating with employees to change rosters or hours of work (by agreement only); and
  • transfer to other sites and flexible working arrangements, such as working from home.

The effect of a stand-down is that you remain employed, although you are not required to perform work and you are not paid during the period of the stand-down. However, you continue to accrue annual leave and personal leave entitlements while you are stood down.

For more information visit the -Fair Work Ombudsman website.

A. For permanent employees:

  • If you are not required in your usual area of work, your employer may direct you to perform alternative duties. The direction to undertake alternative duties must be reasonable in the circumstances, taking into account whether you are provided with appropriate orientation and relevant training, and the nature and scope of your substantive role.
  • If you are not required because there is no meaningful work for you to do:
    • you cannot be forced to take Leave Without Pay, Long Service Leave or Personal/Carer’s leave;
    • you may only be directed to access leave if your enterprise agreement provides for it, or if you have an excessive leave balance.
  • You may, however, choose to access any accrued leave by applying in the usual manner.
  • You must be paid your contracted hours unless you access any leave without pay.
  • You may agree with your employer to temporarily change your hours or days of work. Any agreement should be recorded in writing, including the end date of any agreement.

For casual employees:

Casuals do not have the right to a minimum number of shifts and are not entitled to be paid if they are not working. The ANMF, along with other Trade Unions, are calling on the Federal Government to provide financial support for all workers impacted by COVID-19.

A. If you have been tested for COVID-19 because you are unwell, you may use your Personal/Carer’s leave. Your employer may require you to provide a medical certificate to support the taking of this leave.

If you were tested for COVID-19 for another reason, and are otherwise fit for work, you may be entitled to claim unpaid pandemic leave under your modern Award (Nurses Award 2010 or Aged Care Award 2010). This leave was only very recently introduced to modern Awards. It provides for up to 2 weeks unpaid leave if you are required by the government or medical authorities, or on the advice of a medical practitioner, to self-isolate and consequently are prevented from working. If you are covered by an enterprise agreement, please contact the Duty Officer for further advice.

A. If you are covered by an enterprise agreement, you should check to see if it contains any entitlement to paid pandemic leave. Your employer might also have a workplace policy to provide staff with paid pandemic leave and you should ask your manager.

If you are covered by the Nurses Award (Nurse) or Aged Care Award (PCW), then you are entitled to take up to two weeks unpaid leave if you are required by government or medical authorities or on the advice of a medical practitioner to self-isolate or are unable to work because of - measures taken by government or medical authorities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

You may also take your annual leave at half pay.

There is limited Government assistance available for people who are financially affected because of the pandemic. For example, the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment is for people living in South Australia who can't earn an income because they must self-isolate, quarantine or care for someone who has COVID-19.

More information is available here. 

 

Whilst this is in the right direction, we along with other unions (through the ACTU), are continuing to advocate that the standard provided for aged care workers covered by Awards, apply for all workers, and specifically for all workers in aged care.

A. To access unpaid pandemic leave, you should notify your manager as soon as possible and if requested, provide evidence of the reason you need to take leave.

This does not effect your ability to take any period of paid leave that you have available to you e.g. accrued annual leave.

You can also request to take your annual leave at half pay.

A. The South Australian Government relaxed its current restrictions on Personal Care Workers working across worksites, as set out in the current Residential Aged Care Facilities (COVID-19) Direction.

Personal Care Workers are no longer prohibited from working across worksites or providers, however they are required to limit such work arrangements to the “extent reasonably possible.” Employers should have regard to individual circumstances when considering a request to work across sites. Employers may keep registers of staff who are working across multiple worksites.

We are seeking that where it is necessary to implement limitations, employees are not financially disadvantaged. We encourage affected members to discuss with your manager what they plan to do in terms of mitigating the loss of any shifts or hours and contact the Duty Officer to seek advice by email Duty.Roster@anmfsa.org.au.