After receipt of concerns from multiple members, USU Organiser Emily Callachor met with Kym Ward of the PSA along with USU Delegate Thea Wilkinson on April 7th, to discuss the approach taken by the PSA in relation to working from home versus working in the office.
It was largely a disappointing meeting. The PSA couldn’t confirm the requirements that would allow an employee to work from home full time – the message is: on a case by case basis, requests to work from home full time would require a “reasonable excuse”.
The message was clear: “We are all in this together”; PSA members are on the frontline and therefore PSA staff must be too.
Whilst the USU appreciates that PSA members continue to work in the public arena, the primary concern of the USU is our members – you.
What is a ‘reasonable excuse’?
The advice from NSW Health and Safe Work NSW is clear. Your health and the health of your household is of utmost importance.
During the COVID-19 crisis, the USU recommends that a medical certificate is provided which briefly describes the relevant illness. We are not suggesting that you provide a full medical history, however more than ‘suffering a medical illness’ is needed.
Once received, the PSA will consider this request on its merits – this may include the PSA wishing to speak to your GP to confirm the advice. The USU recommends that when speaking to your doctor that you explain this and discuss with your doctor, what information you are comfortable sharing with your employer. Remember, PSA management are not trained health professionals.
The USU recommends that you submit a written request to your manager with a copy of the certificate. You may wish to copy in myself, or USU Delegate Thea Wilkinson.
PSA advised there are concerns about the availability of full time work – that some roles do not have enough work to complete ordinary hours at home. If this of concern to you, please let me know.
Accrual of flex time
Contrary to an email dated 25/03/2020, the USU is not “supportive” of what has been occurring.
On the 7th, we briefly discussed a stoppage to the accrual of flex time.
The USU’s opinion is that should an employee reasonably accrue flex time whilst working from home, that that time should be banked. That said, if you are finding that throughout your ordinary hours, you are not meeting hours across the ordinary week flex time shouldn’t be accrued. It will require thought and balancing.
Feel free to contact me, or USU Delegate Thea Wilkinson on any of the matters mentioned in this update.
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