1. Working arrangements within schools having regard to Federal government announcement on 29 March 2020 and latest Victorian government requirements.
1(a) Performing duties from home
Having regard to the latest government advice, it is recommended that where a school employee can reasonably perform their role (or duties consistent with their role) from home, schools facilitate these arrangements. This will include Category A and Category C staff that are required to perform duties over the school holiday period.
It will be a localised decision regarding which roles within a school can be performed remotely, and schools should determine the most suitable arrangement for staff and the performance of their duties. For example, for a short time over the school holidays, the needs of a school may require an office to remain open to enable parents to attend the school to collect learning and other materials for students. In this situation a school will need to ensure that it has some staffing in attendance. In these instances, schools should ensure that only the minimum staff required to be in attendance attend, that appropriate social distancing requirements recommended by health authorities apply, and ensure other safety requirements(e.g. not working in isolation) are met.
For further advice regarding arrangements in schools, please contact Employee Relations.
1(b) Performing duties onsite
Where an employee’s role cannot be performed through remote methods at home, but can still be relevantly and safely completed on school grounds, these staff members may currently continue to perform duties onsite. These arrangements should be compliant with social distancing requirements as recommended by health authorities, and ensure other safety requirements (e.g. not working in isolation) are met.
1(c) Employees unable to perform duties due to caring for children
In cases where an employee is unable to perform duties due to having caring responsibilities that have resulted as a result of the COVID-19 situation (e.g. school closure or previously organised caring arrangements are no longer suitable, such as grandparents), this will meet the definition of carers leave in accordance with the VCEMEA due to being an unexpected emergency and the employee can access their paid carers leave entitlement.
1(d) Employees requesting to work from home when also caring for children
In cases where an employee requests to work from home, but is also known to be caring for children, an employer will need to consider whether this is reasonable, safe and practical in the circumstances. This will depend on factors such as the age of the children, whether there are other adults present to provide the care and whether work can be done flexibly. Ultimately it may not be reasonable, safe or practical for an employee to be working from home where also caring for children, and in this instance it will reasonable for an employer to make this assessment. In this instance, an employee can access carers leave in accordance with the VCEMEA due to being an unexpected emergency and the employee can access their paid carers leave entitlement.
1(e) Employees requesting to work from home
If staff members are currently being asked to continue to perform duties onsite, and an employee advises that they would like to perform duties from home, discussions should occur surrounding the reasons behind the request. These requests should be accommodated, unless a person’s role or duties consistent with their role cannot be reasonably performed remotely.
If this is not suitable, an employer should give consideration to granting access to other paid leave entitlements (personal, annual or long service leave) or alternatively a period of unpaid leave (see also question 15 and 16).
2. Non-teaching staff performing alternate duties
To facilitate the possible transition to remote learning and school operations during a period where it is preferable for staff to be working offsite, it may become necessary to consider the duties performed by non-teaching staff, and what can reasonably be performed.
Where it is not possible for an employee to perform all of their current duties due to the changed working arrangements of a school, an employer can give consideration to directing an employee to perform alternate duties in accordance with clause 9.1 of the Victorian Catholic Multi-Enterprise Agreement 2018 (VCEMEA). This requires any duties assigned to be reasonable within an employee’s skill, competence and training, and consistent with the classification structure of the VCEMEA.
Any alternate duties that employees are directed to perform may be duties that the employee would not normally perform within their ordinary role, however such duties should be meaningful, and as outlined above, are required to be consistent with the employee’s classification structure as well as their skills, competence and training in line with clause 9.1(a) of the VCEMEA.
In directing employees to perform any alternate duties, staff should be consulted about the changes and conversations should occur regarding the change and the need to assign alternate duties during this period.