COVID-19 Update for Allied Health Professionals
Allied Health Professionals are on the frontline of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. We diagnose, treat and care for those suffering from COVID-19 and we are committed to this work. We are also acutely aware that this work significantly increases the likelihood that we will come into contact with the SARS-CoV-2 virus and significantly increases the likelihood that we will contract COVID-19.
We accept this risk (and the threat it poses to our families and loved ones) because the work we do is vitally important for all Victorians. But we do so with the expectation that we will be supported in our efforts by the state government, the federal government and by our employers.
VAHPA has been working behind the scenes to ensure this support is forthcoming.
On Tuesday 11 March, VAHPA Secretary, Craig McGregor, and VAHPA Assistant Secretary, Andrew Hewat met with the Victorian Minister for Health, Jenny Mikakos, to discuss matters of relevance to COVID-19.
We are pleased to report that the Andrews government has committed to prioritise the needs of healthcare workers and has undertaken to ensure all AHPs in the public sector are able to access what they call ‘Special Leave’ during periods of absence from work where the employee is not unwell but is considered to be a transmission risk.
- Given the legal and political complexities associated with workplace rights and the dynamic nature of this issue we recommend members make contact with VAHPA to discuss any issues of concern.
- We are also working to clarify the situation within Community Health, Private Radiology and across the many other sectors VAHPA Members work in.
Allied Health Professionals in the public sector who are absent from work because they are unwell or have contracted an illness (COVID-19 or otherwise) are able to access Personal Leave during this period.
It is VAHPA’s view that Allied Health Professionals in the public sector should not use Personal Leave or any other form of accrued leave to cover periods of absence from work for the purpose of self-isolation in the absence of illness.
Allied Health Professionals work in a high-risk environment in relation to communicable disease. As such they must have access to their accrued Personal Leave for when they are sick or injured, or to provide care or support to an immediate family member or member of their household. It is entirely unacceptable, and VAHPA believes may be illegal and discriminatory, for employers to compel employees to use their accrued leave to self-isolate when neither their enterprise agreement nor the Fair Work Act 2009 provide for this.
VAHPA has been working on a detailed position statement for Allied Health Professionals and aim to circulate this document by close of business Monday.
VAHPA Members should also take the time to familiarise themselves with the information provided by the Department of Health and Human Services. This information is being updated frequently.
Look after each other and stay healthy!