Coronavirus Qld: Forced leave no good for workers


WORKERS who have to self-quarantine over the coronavirus outbreak should not be forced by their bosses to take sick leave or annual leave, says the state's peak trade union body.

Queensland Council of Unions secretary Michael Clifford yesterday urged employers not to disadvantage their staff by overreacting amid government advice about high-risk travel locations.

"We encourage people to be responsible with coronavirus and to follow the advice of the health department and health professionals," Mr Clifford said.

"We also encourage employers not to overreact and to disadvantage workers.

"We are calling on employers to introduce additional measures to support workers who may have to self-isolate or be isolated.

"They should not have to use sick leave or annual leave in these circumstances."

His comments come amid concerns by some employees in industries where work cannot be performed from home about being forced to use up their leave while in quarantine after travel.

Mr Clifford also last week called for new measures to support workers, particularly those in insecure work, who may have to stop work due to the coronavirus, but have no access to leave.

The union, which represents 350,000 workers across 26 affiliated unions in Queensland, wants the Federal Government to introduce protections for casuals with no access to sick leave.

It estimates 680,000 Queensland workers do not have access to any form of paid leave, raising concerns employees with coronavirus could be forced to continue to work out of financial necessity.



Special leave provisions should also be introduced for permanent workers stood down or told to stay home amid the coronavirus response, it argues.

"If universities, schools and childcare centres are ordered to close down then permanent workers who otherwise are well should be able to use special leave rather than their own sick leave, which they may need later on," Mr Clifford said.

The Government has issued advice listing mainland China, Iran, Italy and Korea as being at a higher risk for Covid-19 strain of coronavirus.

Travellers returning from mainland China and Iran must self-isolate for two weeks, along with those who left Korea from March 5 or later. Arrivals from Italy must report for a health screening.

The union representing retail and fast food workers is also pushing for special paid leave for casuals.

A spokeswoman for the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association said it should be an industrial standard adopted by all employers in all industries until the Covid-19 crisis passes.