Union Advice:
Coronavirus COVID-19

The FSU's position, and FAQs

Working people are on the frontline of the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. Employers have an obligation to ensure that workers are safe. The FSU is committed to protecting workers’ rights and supporting our members through this global health emergency.

Protecting Finance Workers Through COVID-19

FSU members are seeking commitments from employers across the finance industry to protect our rights and secure our safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We all need to stand together for the health, safety and sustainability of our industry. Show your support by signing, and sharing our petition with colleagues across finance.

Add your voice here: www.actionnetwork.org/forms/fsu-covid19/

Click here to check if your employer is doing the right thing.

Working Through A Pandemic: Share Your Story

Workers have shared stories about wins as well as issues – this has lead to greater transparency and support for workers across the industry. Let’s keep it going!

Your information will be protected and the FSU will never share your identity without your permission.

Share your story here: www.actionnetwork.org/forms/covid19feedback

FSU’s COVID-19 FAQs

In some circumstances, you should not be at work due to coronavirus concerns – particularly where you have recently been in contact with someone with a confirmed case of coronavirus, or where you have recently travelled to a high-risk country. Based on current advice your isolation should be for 14 days and so you should not attend work for this period. It’s the FSU’s position that this period of self-isolation should not impact on an employees accrued leave and should be paid. Where it is not possible to work from home during self-isolation, this should be paid as special leave, Information on travel warnings and advice is changing, so please continue to check https://www.smartraveller.gov.au/destinations for the latest official information. You can also call the 24-hour National Coronavirus Health Information Line available on 1800 020 080. The line provides health and information updates on COVID-19.
Employers have a legal obligation to provide a safe workplace. This includes effectively managing the risk posed by Coronavirus. The severity of risk and the measures required to manage those risks will vary depending on the role a member is performing. Risk management minimisation measures may include:
  • Working from home where possible.
  • Limiting business travel overseas and inter-office.
  • Facilities available for washing hands regularly with soap.
  • Provision of alcohol based hand sanitiser.
  • Provision of antibacterial wipes.
  • Regularly cleaning and disinfecting work spaces, keyboards, phones etc.
  • Prominent display of relevant information to employees and customers.

Consult your workplace’s coronavirus policy to see what measures are being put in place. If you believe that the policy is not being followed, or is inadequate, contact the FSU. For customer facing and cash handling roles, the FSU believes that the ability of members to wash their hands with soap and water during worktime may be impaired by the nature of their work. It is our view that in these circumstances the provision of hand sanitiser should be prioritised.

If you do not currently work from home and are being asked to work from home, or prepare to work from home to avoid risk of transmission, we support these measures in principle but are aware of some issues this may raise for some workers. If you have questions or concerns about being asked to work from home, contact the FSU. If you already work from home some or all of the time, then the FSU believes that a request to work from home until the risk reduces is both lawful and reasonable. Preventative measures such as asking all WFH staff to stay home for now are common sense to reduce public health risks.

Yes. It’s the FSU’s position that working people should not have to shoulder the financial burden of this crisis. If your workplace is closed down, or you’ve been directed not to work, you should have access to special paid leave. If you have caring responsibilities related to the coronavirus crisis, you should have access to special paid leave.

Most major employers in the finance industry have committed to making special paid leave available to their workforce. If you’re being told to use annual leave, or that special paid leave is not available to you, the first step is to ask for your employer’s coronavirus policy/plan. If you believe that the policy is not being followed, or is inadequate, contact the FSU.

All unions in Australia are currently lobbying the government to urgently legislate to provide two paid weeks leave for all workers who may have to stop work because of the coronavirus. All workers need to know that they will have their income protected if they have to self-isolate or cannot work. This should apply to all workers, including the one in three workers that currently have no leave entitlements such as casuals. The FSU has also written to major employers in the finance sector and urged them to extend special paid leave provisions to those without access to paid leave.

If your caring responsibilities are related to the coronavirus crisis, then it is the FSU’s position that you should be able to access special paid leave. If you’re being told to use annual leave, or that special paid leave is not available to you, the first step is to ask for your employer’s coronavirus policy plan. If you believe that the policy is not being followed, or is inadequate, contact the FSU.

Your health and safety is paramount, and no job is worth taking a risk with your health. If you’ve got concerns, the first step should be to talk to your employer. Public facing staff should be supported with appropriate safety measures and advice.

On 24 March additional social distancing measures were announced. The relevant Department of Health bulletin states: “Implementation of the 1 person per 4 square metre rule in all shops and businesses remaining open (customer limit, which must be displayed on a sign) with enhanced cleaning provisions in place." The full statement is here: https://www.health.gov.au/news/australian-health-protection-principal-committee-ahppc-advice-to-national-cabinet-about-social-distancing-0

Harassment and bullying directed against people who are sick, or who are concerned about workplace risk or coronavirus exposure is likely to be unlawful. Coronavirus concerns are no excuse for treating people from different cultural backgrounds without respect and decency. Employers will need to ensure that no one is discriminated against for reasons related to coronavirus.

As part of if its plan to deal with the financial fallout from the Coronavirus the Government has allowed early access to your superannuation subject to meeting specified criteria. The ACTU has prepared three documents to help you assess the situation and make an informed decision based on your individual circumstances. Click the links below or go to the ACTU’s coronavirus website. cv02-superannuation-21-temporary-early-access-to-superannuation-200324 cv02-21-whats-happening-with-your-super-balance cv02-21-explainer-on-insurance-and-superannuation Remember super funds have taken big hits during this health crisis and this may have impacted on your super balance. We urge all members to seek financial advice.   The following information from the ATO website covers further information on this option. Applications for early release of superannuation (super) will be accepted through myGov from 20 April. You can register your interest now by logging in to your myGov account and following the Intention to access Coronavirus support instructions. If you don’t already have a myGov account, you can set one up by selecting 'create an account'. We will notify you by email or SMS when applications open. You do not need to phone us. About the measure The government is allowing individuals affected by COVID-19 to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation in 2019–20 and a further $10,000 in 2020–21. Individuals will not need to pay tax on amounts released and the money they withdraw will not affect Centrelink or Veterans’ Affairs payments. Eligible individuals will be able to apply to access up to:
  • $10,000 of their super before 1 July 2020.
  • a further $10,000 from 1 July 2020 until 24 September 2020.
To apply for early release, you must satisfy one or more of the following requirements:
  • You are unemployed.
  • You are eligible to receive a job seeker payment, youth allowance for jobseekers, parenting payment (which includes the single and partnered payments), special benefit or farm household allowance.
  • On or after 1 January 2020, either.
    • you were made redundant.
    • your working hours were reduced by 20% or more.
    • if you are a sole trader, your business was suspended or there was a reduction in your turnover of 20% or more.

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