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Sunshine Coast Council Update – COVID-19 Impacts and Bargaining

Local Authorities May 8, 2020

The Services Union attended yesterday’s Workplace Consultative Forum (WCF) to discuss areas impacted hardest by COVID-19, including: Arts, Heritage and Libraries; Regulated Parking; and Sports and Community Venues. Unfortunately, many casuals remain without work, but to date permanent staff have been kept in useful employment and none have yet been stood down.

Sports and Community Venues are the most immediate concern, and discussions will be taking place very soon about a potential reduction in hours. Please note that the following entitlement timeline will apply to those affected:

    1. Paid pandemic leave should be used first and can be used in conjunction with a reduction in hours e.g. 50% reduction in work while using 50% pandemic leave would mean that a full-time employee who gets 15 days pandemic leave would get 6 weeks full pay
    2. Under the amendment to the Queensland Local Government Industry (Stream A) Award – State 2017 Council may direct staff with excessive annual leave or long service leave to use this:

Division 2 – Section 1 – Schedule 3 (Award flexibility during the COVID-19 Pandemic) – (6) (j) Annual Leave and Long Service Leave

      • An employer may direct an employee to take up to four (4) weeks annual leave on full pay, provided the employee is provided two (2) weeks’ notice prior to the taking of the leave and where the employee will have a minimum balance of 5 weeks annual leave remaining in their balance at the time of the commencement of this directed leave.
      • An employer may direct an employee to take up to six (6) weeks long service leave on full pay, provided the employee is provided two (2) weeks’ notice prior to the taking of the leave and where the employee will have a minimum of 13 weeks long service leave remaining in their balance at the time of the commencement of this directed leave.
    1. Employees may then opt to use annual leave or long service leave at full or half pay or choose to be stood down and then access JobSeeker.

Our Union is doing everything we can to avoid stand-downs and will be working closely with members and management to this end. It is important to remember that any employer contemplating a stand-down must first consult with affected staff and the Union. Once the consultation has exhausted all options for alternative deployment, then and only then can the required two weeks’ notice of stand-down (or payment in lieu) be issued.

At yesterday’s WCF we also discussed EBA negotiations and we can confirm that negotiations will now begin on 21 May. We have a draft log of claims based on member input, and we will seek further feedback and endorsement at paid member meetings next week. Watch this space for further information.

We have welcomed a flurry of new members to the Union in the last month as staff look to protect their jobs and entitlements. Encourage any non-member colleagues to join and make your workplace stronger and safer. Joining is easy at: https://www.theservicesunion.com.au/member-information/join/

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