HSUWA update on the COVID-19 situation in WA

Monday 16 Mar 2020

Advice about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) 

The COVID-19 situation is rapidly evolving and the importance of your role in supporting each other and our community at this time cannot be understated. You represent the public good.

Health workers are the frontline. You will diagnose, treat and care for those suffering from COVID-19 and you are committed to this work. You are also acutely aware that this work significantly increases the likelihood that you will come into contact with, and may contract, the virus.

You accept this risk because the work you do is vitally important for West Australians. But you do so with the expectation that you will be supported in your efforts by the State Government, the Federal Government and by employers.

Your union is working hard to get you the support you need at work and to protect your incomes.

The HSUWA has been working behind the scenes, with other unions, to ensure this support is forthcoming. In the past week we have attended briefings and meetings with the Deputy Chief Health Officer, Public Sector Labour Relations as well as the Minister for Health’s office to discuss matters of relevance to COVID-19. We are in daily contact with the various Health Service Providers and the System-Wide Manager on behalf of members – asking questions and feeding information through from what members tell us is happening on the ground.

There are significant workforce planning strategies being developed across hospitals and health services. We are also working to clarify the situation within Community Health, Private Health, Radiology and Pathology, Aged Care and Disability and the other sectors HSUWA members work in. 

We are pleased to report that the State Government and a number of private employers have responded with measures to ensure staff are able to access a ‘special leave’ during periods of absence from work where the employee is not unwell but is considered to be a transmission risk. 

There will be ongoing challenges given the legal and political complexities associated with workplace rights and the dynamic nature of this issue as it evolves. 

For example, casuals accessing paid time off is not yet adequately resolved and is extremely important. 

We know that our publicly funded health care system of highly respected and trusted professionals puts us in a far stronger position to face this crisis than other countries. The role of good government and a strong safety net for all is critical.

We will update members as further information becomes available. We will use the website, our Facebook page and email.

The speed of this crisis is a challenge for us all. The HSUWA will continue to advocate and raise concerns with the State Government and employers on your behalf, we are in this together.

Look after each other

In unity

Naomi McCrae

Secretary

HSUWA

Important Information

Please get your information from credible and accurate sources. This is a rapidly evolving situation, so we recommend checking in regularly at this page and the links below.

WA State Government website (highly recommended) 

Federal Health Department website

WA Health Department website  

The ACTU  

World Health Organisation

Each employer in the public sector (including all the Health Service Providers (HSPs) and the private sector (including the large private hospitals) have their own separate information being provided to staff through intranets or directly by email.

This information is being updated frequently.

FAQ 

Should I attend work?

To assess whether you should attend work or stay home, you will need to check the most up to date information from your employer. 

To begin, we suggest you view the simple guide by CAMHS here (current at 13 March 2020)

If you need to stay home, contact your line manager to discuss your situation. If you need advice or assistance following the conversation with your manager, please contact the union office.

I am employed in the public sector. What are my entitlements?

For members employed in State Public Hospitals and HSPs the current advice regarding employment and leave entitlements is attached here (Circular #4)

I am employed in the private sector. What are my entitlements?

For members employed in the non-government sector the Fair Work Act contains limited provisions to help workers in this current crisis, the FWC website.

The union is contacting private sector employers regarding what they propose to do to protect employees and employee entitlements and incomes. We will advise as we know more. We recommend that you raise these issues with your management sand then seek advice from the union office if required.

Safety

Employers are required by law to maintain safe and health workplaces, see here  

If you have concerns about workplace health and safety, you should raise these in the appropriate way with your WHS Representative or your employer’s WHS personnel.  We believe that at some point, due to world-wide shortages, access to PPE will become a critical issue. If you need advice or assistance call the union office.

Personal hygiene measures are essential:

  • Avoid touching your face
  • Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds 
  • Cough and sneeze into a tissue and then dispose of tissues and wash your hands, or cough and sneeze into your elbow if a tissue is not available

 

The speed of this crisis is a challenge for us all. The HSUWA will continue to advocate and raise concerns with the State Government and employers on your behalf, we are in this together.

Look after each other 

In unity,

Naomi McCrae

Secretary 

HSUWA

Get In Touch