Tuesday, 18 January 2022

Universities – Amendments to isolation rules

On Thursday 13 January 2022, National Cabinet made amendments to the current COVID isolation rules that potentially apply to you and your workplace.

Up until that decision, persons defined at the already downgraded category of “close contacts”, being people that share a household with a positive COVID case, were required to self-isolate for an already reduced six days.

The latest amendments to this rule mean workers from certain industries were exempt from this obligation.

It does require these persons to undertake a rapid test every two days – a ludicrous ask in the current circumstances due to the restricted availability.

One of these categories, Adult and Higher Education likely applies to your workplace.

Your Union the CPSU NSW has grave concerns regarding the workplace health and safety of our members with the removal of this requirement.  The completely foreseeable outcome is that more of your colleagues will inadvertently come to work carrying COVID and transmit it to their colleagues, and in turn their close contacts, and so on.  The CPSU NSW encourages members to put in incident reports where they have been put at risk because of COVID -19, whether this has been because of inadequate PPE, or being forced to attend work while a close contact.

These new rules appear to be attempting to address the labour shortages in some industries that we are all witnessing not by addressing the spread of COVID through increased availability of PPE, vaccines and testing, but by attempting to stoically ignore its existence.

The CPSU NSW has little confidence that these lax rules will reduce worker absenteeism and in fact may do the reverse, as they come after a successive weakening of our isolation requirements that now put your workplaces at the frontline not of just service delivery but of transmission.

As your Union we remind you are a close contact at home, in that someone in your household has been diagnosed with COVID, you are pending the relationship entitled to access your sick/personal leave in order to provide care for them.

As the Union for you and your colleagues, regardless of these weakened exemptions we urge you to consider doing so.

This is a minimum standard set by National Cabinet and does not have to be adopted by an employer.  Your Union is writing to your university advocating that they  have better infection controls in place than what is being recommended for the protection of all our members, their families and the members of the community you may come in contact with during your duties.

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Contact the CPSU NSW

Member Support Centre 1300 772 679