With Covid cases on the rise and warnings from authorities that the latest Omicron variants are much more transmissible, the Commonwealth Bank has notified staff that its Special Leave of ten days for workers with Covid, has been withdrawn.
In a message to staff last Friday the CBA said: “Please note that the paid Special Leave (paid Pandemic Leave) of up to 10 days for Covid-19 was an additional benefit provided by the Group during FY21 and FY22 only.”
The CBA told staff if they needed to take time off because they or a member of their family had Covid-19, they could use Personal/Carers Leave or approach their manager for additional “paid personal illness leave.” Managers were instructed to contact the CBA’s HR Department for guidance. Alternately, unpaid pandemic leave is also available.
Finance Sector Union National Secretary Julia Angrisano said many bank workers would already have exhausted their sick leave and would be left without pay at a time when the law mandated they should stay at home while infectious.
“We fought and won the right for employees to be given Covid leave early in the pandemic and for the CBA to end that leave safety-net before the pandemic ends is outrageous,” Ms Angrisano said.
“Even worse that the CBA pulls the pin on its staff at the same time the Federal and State governments have extended Pandemic Leave Disaster payments for workers without sick leave.”
“What does the CBA expect to happen here? Have taxpayers pick up the cost?”
The Federal Government itself only just reversed its decision to end paid pandemic leave after consultation with health and other experts about the detrimental effects that such a decision would have on employees and businesses.
“This is the bank that posted a $2.4 billion dollar third quarter cash profit in May.”
Ms Angrisano said the CBA knows exactly how much Covid leave was costing and how many staff had taken Covid leave.
“For the CBA to pull the rug out from under its workers now that the number of Covid cases is predicted to rise is totally irresponsible. The FSU rejects the bank’s position and calls on CEO Matt Comyn to reinstate the leave entitlement.”
“It is unacceptable for Covid leave to be now at the discretion of management.”
“Our members working in branches will be catching Covid-19 in even greater numbers for the remainder of winter and will be depending on every form of leave available to them.”
“Cutting Covid leave now is a reckless act by a bank that doesn’t care about its staff.”
The removal of such an important safety measure has caused distress for members, particularly those who work in customer facing roles who cannot work from home in the case they become infected and are required to isolate but have exhausted their paid sick leave.
CBA should restore Covid Special Leave as a way of protecting its workers and keeping them safe.
Media contact John Hill 0412 197 079