Your rights and responsibilities

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Private Sector and Aged Care

Last updated 20 March 2020.

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. Your entitlement to be paid while directed not to work, means that you would not have to use any of your accrued leave.

Casual employees are not entitled to be paid. 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 COVID19.

If you are sent home from work because you cannot be usefully employed (there is no work for you to do) because of COVID19, please contact the ANMF (SA Branch) Duty Officer by emailing Duty.Roster@anmfsa.org.au to get further advice.

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A: The Federal Government released a new policy, outlining that all overseas travellers returning to Australia from midnight Sunday 15 March 2020 will have to isolate for a period of 14 days.

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

Where an employer directs a full-time or part-time employee to stay home in line with advice, for example in line with the Australian Government’s health and quarantine advice, and the employee is not sick with coronavirus, the employee should ordinarily be paid while the direction applies.

Casual employees are not entitled to be paid. 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. View the media release here.

However, 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.

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A. Your employer might need to adopt different ways of working in order to respond to the rapidly changing environment as a result of COVID19. As such, employees may be required to undertake different duties for a period of time, commensurate with the employee’s qualifications, training, skills and classification level.

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.

In these circumstances, employers should consult with employees in accordance with their consultation obligations under the relevant enterprise agreements.

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 and aged care sector permit the employer to direct an employee to take annual leave where the facility is at low occupancy or low activity, or during periods of shutdown.

You should check your enterprise agreement which will set out the process for situations where your employer directs its employees to take annual leave.

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. On 22 March 2020, the South Australian Government issued a direction effective immediately that all people entering South Australia will have to self-isolate for a period of 14 days.

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 for Special Leave with Pay.

For further information on self-isolation visit the SA Health website.

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 - https://coronavirus.fairwork.gov.au/#stand-down

Some employers are encouraging their employees to seek redeployment in the SA public health system during the period of stand down. SA Health are currently seeking expressions of interest from nurses and midwives, who do not currently work in the South Australian public health system to form a pool that can be drawn upon as the need arises during the COVID-19 pandemic.

More information here current recruitment drives is available here.