Covid-19 Guide for Queensland Health Delegates – United Workers Union

Covid-19 Guide for Queensland Health Delegates

COVID-19 GUIDE

FOR QLD HEALTH DELEGATES

Congratulations! United Workers Union public health members are on the frontline of the COVID-19 crisis, protecting Queenslanders and ensuring that everyone stays safe. United Workers have secured access to additional entitlements to ensure members’ health and safety, conditions and job security through the COVID-19 Pandemic.  Right now, the union’s key priority is to ensure United Workers Union members are aware of these entitlements and empowered to respond if something seems unfair.

As a delegate you have a vital role to play to ensure health members at your workplace understand the additional entitlements and know how to ensure they are applied.

This guide provides you with information and advice you need to undertake this important role.  To ensure all members are accessing these entitlements, delegates need to work together with members in your workplace to discuss these measures with your managers and how they will be implemented locally.

This COVID-19 Delegate Guide is a live document that will be updated online as new information becomes available.


KEY ENTITLEMENTS

COVID-19 Industrial Relation Principles

Information:

Six key principles have been agreed to and endorsed by United Workers Union representatives, other unions and the Department of Health to guide the industrial framework during the response to COVID-19.

  1. The health and safety of our workforce is paramount;
  2. Employees will be asked to work only within their scope of practice;
  3. Flexibility is vital to our response;
  4. Respectful and rapid consultation about temporary changes is required;
  5. Existing industrial entitlements will be maintained; and
  6. All changes are temporary.

The principles provide:

Respectful and rapid consultation must occur in relation to temporary changes implemented as part of the COVID-19 pandemic response. Usual consultation processes with employees and unions will be streamlined wherever possible to ensure employees are safe and Queenslanders are provided with the best possible care. Establishing and maintaining effective consultation mechanisms at the local level with unions and staff will ensure that effective consultation can occur to support rapid change as required.

Advice:

Consultation with unions and affected employees is a key part of these principles. Delegates need to be working with members to gather their views, meet with management regularly and raise issues to ensure members’ interests are protected and members are having a say in any changes that affect them.

Further information available:

Health Practitioners and Dental Officers – COVID-19 Industrial Relations Principles Guideline

Administrative, Professional, Technical and Operation Officers – COVID-19 Industrial Relations Principles Guideline


COVID-19 Screening

Information:

It’s vital that our health workers are safe at work. Members may be exposed to patients with COVID-19 during the course of their work. Screening is the only appropriate way to determine if a patient has COVID-19.

Advice:

Delegates and members need to work together to ensure members are safe at work and to ensure:

Patients presenting to reception of health services should be asked (at a distance of 1.5m) do they have:

  1. cough/sore throat/shortness of breath or a temperature
  2. interstate or overseas travel in last 14 days
  3. contact with a person with COVID-19 in the last 14 days

Regular standard precautions (e.g. for non-invasive procedures: hand hygiene and cleaning equipment) apply if the answer is no to all of the above.  Or droplet + contact PPE if the patient meets any of the conditions outlined and the service cannot be deferred.

Further information available:

QH Covid-19 Interim infection prevention and control guidelines for the management of COVID-19 in healthcare settings

  • PPE Quick Reference Guide See Appendix 3 in Guideline

QH COVID-19 PPE Information for Outpatient Areas including Medical Imaging


COVID-19 PPE

Information:

To ensure members are safe at work it’s vital appropriate PPE is used at all times. Members should perform a risk assessment when preparing to provide care to a patient, anticipate whether a blood or body fluid splash is likely, and fit the required PPE accordingly.

Standard precautions are required for all patients regardless of known COVID-19 status, this includes hand hygiene (as per the 5 Moments for Hand Hygiene) and risk assessment to determine the level of PPE required to prevent contact with blood and body fluids.

  • Wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) – masks, gloves, eye shields and/or gowns – to protect themselves from contamination and help stop the spread of disease.
  • Use the PPE required depending on the type of infection and medical interaction.
  • N95/P2 respirators are recommended for airborne precautions, including in ICU.
  • Only PPE marked as reusable should be reused, following reprocessing according to manufactures’ instructions.
  • Used linen from a person with suspect, probable or confirmed COVID-19 should be managed as infectious linen.

The Department’s guidelines include the following:

Level 1 barrier masks are suitable for general purpose medical procedures, where the wearer is not at risk of blood or body fluid splash.

Level 2 barrier masks are suitable for use in emergency departments, dentistry, changing dressings on small wounds or healing wounds where minimal blood droplet exposure may possibly occur.

Level 3 barrier masks are suitable for all surgical procedures, major trauma first aid or in any area where the healthcare worker is at risk of blood or body fluid splash.

Surgical gowns are single use items intended for use in the operating room to protect operating room personnel from the transfer of body, fluids, micro-organisms and particulate material.

Single use isolation gowns are intended to protect either the patient, or healthcare providers and visitors from the transfer of infectious agents when they are in contact with each other.

The PPE used in healthcare is effective; however, it is good practice to change out of your uniform/work clothes after you finish work and launder these clothes daily on the warmest appropriate water setting for the items and dry them completely (either air dry or tumble dry as appropriate for the item).

Advice:

Members and delegates should meet with management to agree on:

  • The appropriate PPE for each type of procedure or patient interaction; and
  • What measures will be put in place to ensure the correct PPE is available for every procedure or patient interaction.

Where members have concerns, delegates should raise these with management and if not resolved they should be escalated to the next level of management. Talk to your UWU organiser for support.

Further Information available:

QH Covid-19 Interim infection prevention and control guidelines for the management of COVID-19 in healthcare settings

  • For information about patients being managed in ICU, See page 9.
  • For information about barrier masks and gowns See page 11.
  • Aerosol generating procedures See page 12.
  • PPE Quick Reference Guide See Appendix 3.

QH COVID-19 PPE Information for Outpatient Areas including Medical Imaging


Vulnerable Workers

Information:

United Workers Union has worked with Queensland Health to clarify information on vulnerable workers and members who care for or live with a vulnerable person in the COVID-19 Vulnerable Employees – Guideline.

Members are at increased risk from the effects of COVID-19 if they:

  • Are 70 years and older.
  • Are 65 years and older with chronic medical conditions.* Click here for the Queensland Health COVID-19 Vulnerable Staff Guideline s1.4 chronic medical conditions
  • An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person who is 50 years and older with one or more chronic medical conditions.*
  • Are significantly immune compromised or taking immunosuppression therapy.
  • Have a medical condition and their doctor has advised in writing (provided a medical certificate) that they are at an increased risk and require work adjustment.

Pregnant members may also be at increased risk from the effects of COVID-19.

If a member is in a vulnerable category the following process should occur:

  • Contact with suspected, probable or confirmed COVID-19 patients avoided.
  • Risks to the member assessed and actions developed to address the risks. Use the Employees in vulnerable groups form – page 9
  • Members who are not ill and are required to self-isolate should work flexibly wherever possible.
  • Members who live with or care for a vulnerable person should discuss this with their line manager to arrange flexible work arrangements.
  • Temporary, short-term and reasonable adjustments made such as:
    • Removal from high-risk work areas;
    • Redeploy to undertake alternative duties within the HHS;
    • Support to work from an alternative location or work from home.
  • If flexible work is not possible, members (including casuals) should apply for paid special leave.

Advice:

Delegates can assist by ensuring all members are aware of this information and work together to identify vulnerable members (including pregnant members). Delegates and members should work together to identify and negotiate suitable adjustments to ensure members are not disadvantaged. Vulnerable members should be strongly encouraged and supported to:

  1. Inform their line manager immediately.
  2. Complete the Staff in vulnerable groups form in the Queensland Health COVID-19 Vulnerable Staff Guideline (p.  9 & 10) and give the form to their line manager.
  3. Ensure management respond and take action by altered rostering, flexible working arrangements etc.

Further information:

QH COVID-19 Vulnerable Staff Guideline

QH COVID-19 Pregnant Staff Guideline

Implementation Guideline – Directive 01/20 (V2)


COVID-19 response: Employee accommodation benefits Directive 01/20

Information:

Additional accommodation and benefits have been secured to support members who are required to work in response to COVID-19. These include:

Ad-hoc accommodation where members are:

  • required to self-isolate due to work-related exposure;  work-related travel and there is no ability to self-isolate/quarantine at the member’s usual residence, or
  • fatigued due to working extended hours/shifts; or the need to return to shifts where other options for travel to and from home are not available or feasible.

Short to longer term accommodation where members are:

  • at greater risk of exposure to COVID-19 as a result of working within a COVID specific ward, clinic or assessment centre and reside with a vulnerable person, or
  • have temporarily relocated to a role outside their home to fill a critical role due to shortage of staff related to responding to COVID-19.

Other associated benefits:

  • Meals or a meal allowance
  • Incidental expenses or allowance

Advice:

It’s important delegates work with members to ensure they are aware of these entitlements, gather members’ views and questions and and meet with management to gain agreement on how this will operate if required in your work area to ensure members are securing approval for payment of these additional benefits throughout COVID-19.

Further information:

Health Employment Directive 01/20 COVID-19 response: Employee accommodation benefit

Domestic Travelling and Relieving Expenses Directive 09/11


Closedown of a workplace

Information:

Where there has been suspension of a service, delegates and member should be consulted and should talk to management about:

  • Redeploying members to alternative workplaces.
  • Implementing flexible working arrangements like working from home, or finding alternative work within the scope of practice and in line with professional registration requirements.
  • Ensuring workplace health and safety inductions and training for new work locations or alternative work occurs.
  • Where members are willing and able to attend work – but cannot be provided with redeployment, alternative work, or flexible working arrangements – ensuring that if they are directed not to attend work they are entitled to be paid their regular remuneration with no debit to leave balances.

Advice:

Delegates and members should work together to ensure consultation takes place about contingency plans, and to ensure members are treated fairly and with respect while maintaining entitlements. All changes must be discussed prior to implementation. Steps to take:

  1. Seek a meeting with management to consult about what happens following the suspension/closure of the service and to ensure members have a say in any proposed changes.
  2. Delegates and members should get together prior to the meeting and create a list of questions for management as well as what you would like to see happen to your work following the suspension of services.
  3. The outcomes of consultation should be communicated to all members and followed up to make sure everyone is getting their entitlements and are not disadvantaged.

Flexible Working Arrangements or Alternative work

Information:

Members who are vulnerable, care for a vulnerable person, or their workplace has suspended services, may need to utilise flexible work arrangements or access alternative safe work during the response to COVID-19.

Advice:

Delegates can assist by working with members and meeting with management to discuss:

  • Flexible working arrangements and working from home options.
  • Possible work at other locations.
  • What other work health members can do within the HHS.
  • Appropriate training, health and safety measures, PPE, and other questions or concerns members have about these changes.
  • The process and appropriate time for management approval.

Further Information:

Flexible Working Arrangements HR Policy C5

Employment Arrangements in the Event of a Health Pandemic Directive 01/20

Deployment during COVID-19 – Guideline

COVID-19 Flexitime and TOIL Industrial Provisions


COVID-19 Deployment

Information:

United Workers Union has been working with the Department on temporary deployment guidelines.

As the response to COVID-19 evolves, members may be asked to work in a different setting, work location, or undertake a similar or different task or role.

It’s expected that clinical members will continue to work within their scope of practice and will continue to exercise their professional judgment in relation to their clinical practice.

Consultation is critical with union delegates and affected members. The Deployment during COVID-19 – Guideline states (clause 1.4):

Every effort will be made to reach agreement with relevant employees and unions about work in another location or another role. Employees will be provided with as much notice as possible, and early consultation with affected employees and unions will be undertaken to take into consideration individual needs and family/caring responsibilities.

All changes will be temporary (clause 1.6) and industrial entitlements continue to apply (clause 1.5):

Where an employee is deployed to a position or is undertaking tasks that would normally be remunerated at a lower rate of pay, the employee’s existing classification and rate of pay will be maintained.

Where an employee is deployed to a position that is classified at a higher classification and subsequent higher remuneration, the employee will temporarily move into that classification and receive the higher rate of pay.

Advice:

Delegates and members have a right to genuine consultation BEFORE and DURING changes. This includes consultation about deployment and services recommencing. These rights are only meaningful if delegates and members work together locally to ensure consultation occurs. Delegates should work with members to identify the main issues and/or questions and call a meeting with management to be consulted as soon as possible.

 

Further Information: 

Deployment during COVID-19 – Guideline

 


Employee leave options for leave due to COVID-19

Permanent and temporary, full-time and part-time employees

Employee leave options for leave due to COVID-19

Short-term and long-term casual employees

Information:

If members are sick, including ill with COVID-19 or other viral infections (e.g. influenza) the health pandemic directive 01/20 applies.

Advice:

Delegate should work with members to ensure they know:

  • If a member is unwell with any viral infection, not just COVID-19, members should apply for sick leave.
  • Once a member’s sick leave is exhausted, members can apply for up to 20 days’ paid special pandemic leave.

Entitlements for Casual Members

Long-term casual members (regular and systematic work for 12 months) are entitled to paid special pandemic leave up to 20 days.

Casual members that have worked less than 12 months,  but on a regular and systematic basis, and if not for the pandemic would have continued to do so, may be paid special pandemic leave up to 20 days for the shifts they would have worked.

All casual members may apply for special leave.

Health members required to self-isolate

Members required to self-isolate in accordance with health advice that are not sick and not able to undertake flexible work arrangements, should apply for paid special leave.

All casual members should apply for special leave for the shifts they would have worked.

Health members required to care for a child due to school or childcare centre closure

Members required to care for a child as a result of a school closure, and are not able to undertake flexible work arrangements, should access carers leave then paid special pandemic leave up to 20 days when carers leave has been exhausted.

Long-term casual members can access special pandemic leave up to 20 days.  Other casual members should apply for special leave for the shifts they would have worked.

Health members required to care for a family/household member who is ill or suspected of being ill with COVID-19

Members required to care for a family or household member who is sick or suspected of being ill with the virus, should access carers leave then paid special pandemic leave up to 20 days when carers leave has been exhausted.

Long-term casual members can access special pandemic leave up to 20 days. Other casual members should apply for special leave for the shifts they would have worked.

What happens when all other paid leave accruals have been exhausted?

Once carers/sick leave, special leave, and special pandemic leave entitlements have been exhausted, members can use annual leave and then long service leave. Long service leave can be accessed early, prior to seven years’ continuous service and can be taken for single days.

Advice:

Delegates can assist by working with members to make sure they know they are able to access leave entitlements, and which entitlements apply.


Do I need to provide a medical certificate if I am absent from work due to COVID-19?

Members that access special pandemic leave as a result of illness, or to care for ill family or household members, may not be required to provide a medical certificate.


Hours of Work Arrangements

Information:

All existing conditions of employment contained in members’ current Award and Enterprise Agreement still apply. This includes the provision that 50% of affected employees need to agree to any proposed change of hours or roster. If there is a proposal to change work arrangements, such as hours of work and rosters, members need to be consulted prior to changes taking place.

Advice:

Delegates and members need to be consulting with management before changes take place. Delegates and members should work together to determine majority support/opposition for changes proposed, and consult with management prior to changes being implemented.


Temporary Contracts

Information:

Where a temporary engagement is due to end, members and delegates should talk to management about extending the contract if there is an on-going need for the member to continue in that role as they usually would if not for the pandemic.

Where there is no on-going need to extend a temporary member in a particular role, other suitable roles or COVID-19 response opportunities should be offered to the temporary member, taking into account their skills and experience.

Advice:

Delegates should inform members on temporary contracts about this entitlement and ensure consultation is happening with management about extension. Contact your organiser for assistance if needed.

Further information available to delegates:

Employment Arrangements in the Event of a Health Pandemic – Directive 01/20

Implementation Guideline – Directive 01/20 (V2)

Health Practitioner and Dental Officers (Queensland Health) Award – State 2015

Hospital and Health Service General Employees (Queensland Health) Award – State 2015


Health members who contract COVID-19 at work

Information:

If COVID-19 is contracted at work, members should submit an application for Workcover for work related illnesses or injuries.  It is important that members report their illness or injury in the usual manner using RISKMAN.

Advice:

For more information and advice delegates should direct members to contact United Workers Union Member Assist.

Further information available to delegates:

COVID-19 and WorkCover – Employee fact sheet

Workcover FAQs


Delegate rights to consultation and paid time meetings

Information:

The Department of Health and the CHRO have acknowledged that consultation with union delegates is an integral part of the COVID-19 response model working throughout this ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

Delegates have the right to access paid time and resources to collate members’ concerns and represent members’ interests to ensure their rights are protected and support is provided to members during the response to COVID-19.

To ensure consultation can occur quickly to respond to changing needs, delegates have the right to be:

  • Notified by email in advance of all consultation meetings.
  • Released on paid time from their duties to attend consultation meetings.
  • Have access to appropriate facilities and resources to effectively participate in consultation meetings.
  • Receive facilitate paid time and access to resources required for delegates to engage with members and escalate their concerns.

Advice:

Delegates and members should work together to ensure delegates are aware of members’ concerns, to facilitate escalation of concerns to management, and have the opportunity to feedback responses to members.

Further information available:   

CHRO Memo re: union delegate work in paid time


What do I need to do right now?

Members have fought hard to achieve these great wins. The next step is to work together with members to ensure all United Workers health members know their entitlements and are being consulted locally about COVID-19 measures.

KEEP INFORMED by reading emails.

WORK TOGETHER with members in your workplace, department and HHS to discuss plans around COVID-19 with your line manager, director, or executive, and how the plan will be implemented locally or more broadly.

Follow these steps:

  1. Seek a meeting with management to consult about what happens following the release of new information, any changes/updates, or discussions of members issues in the workplace. Ensure you have a say in any proposed changes and are consulted about issues and changes.
  2. Attend your COVID-19 Consultative Forum meetings as a representative of members.
  3. Delegates and members get together prior to every consultation meeting to create a list of questions for management as well as solutions which would improve issues raised.
  4. Communicate the outcome of the meeting to all members, and follow-up to ensure members understand the information, are maintaining their entitlements, and know their rights in the workplace.

Tip: Set up a group chat online with members from your workplace to keep in touch so that everyone can have their say about what happens at your workplace. Ask your organiser for help.

ENSURE ALL HEALTH WORKERS ARE MEMBERS of United Workers Union as it’s never been more important in this uncertain time. Visit unitedworkers.org.au/joinform or call (02) 8204 3001.

DON’T FORGET the most critical thing to remember is to work together with members in your workplace to discuss these measures with your managers and how these will be the implemented locally ensuring all members are accessing what they are entitled to.  If you need any further assistance, speak to your union organiser.

JOIN