USU Organiser Emily Callachor wrote to HCF on 31 March 2020 requesting an assurance from them that should a complete lockdown be ordered by the State or Federal Government(s), that:

  • all workers that can physically and technologically work from home, are able to and are not forced to take accrued or unpaid leave.; and
  • approval to work from home is not conditional on performance improvement plans or other performance concerns, despite being physically and technologically able too.

HCF advised no such assurance could be given. I received the information (below) from HCF on
3 April 2020.

Please read; if you have any questions, comments or concerns, please contact Emily directly.

1. Lockdown

During the COVID-19 pandemic, HCF is balancing the needs of our members as well as the needs of our employees. HCF continues to follow all Government and Department of Health advice and directions in regards to restrictions and best practice, and I confirm, once again, that HCF will continue to act in accordance with its legal obligations, including with respect to its employees.

There has been no suggestion of a lockdown by the Federal or State Government. In fact the Prime Minister was clear that the term “lockdown” is unhelpful and there are no plans to invoke a complete “lockdown”. HCF will adapt if and when any further restrictions are put in place in accordance with Government directives and recommendations.

We can assure you that HCF’s Management team is regularly revisiting its business continuity plan in order to ensure the business is agile in the face of any updated restrictions and will always consider measures that it can take to reduce as far as is reasonably practicable any adverse impact on its employees. It will not, however, provide the assurances you seek in the USU Letter.

2. Working from home

In respect of the matters set out in the USU Letter regarding working from home arrangements, we confirm that any request to work from home is assessed by HCF on its merits.

As set out in the HCF Letter, HCF is currently undertaking an urgent review of its technology and operational systems, and is in the process of investing heavily in working towards a point where more employees are able to work from home. While we are optimistic that we will overcome many of these hurdles, at present these technological and operational issues remain a barrier to transitioning our full workforce to working from home arrangements.

To the extent any of your members believe that HCF will not allow underperforming employees to work from home, they have misunderstood.

There is no suggestion that, by virtue of the fact that an employee has performance issues, a working from home request would be denied. Rather, working from home requests continue to be assessed on the business and employee needs.

Emily Callachor
0417 420 924