COVID-19 information page

Staff Association representatives are in regular contact with CSIRO Executives responsible for the organisation’s coronavirus (COVID-19) workforce response.

We believe that the safety of CSIRO staff should remain paramount and that financial disadvantage should be minismised for all employees – permanent, fixed-term, casual, contractor or labour-hire – as a direct result of management decisions or directions in response to COVID-19.

The Staff Association has also sought assurances from CSIRO on implementing stricter social distancing protocols at CSIRO workplaces and supporting staff with pre-existing medical conditions and susceptibility to illness.

This is a special resource for CSIRO Staff Association members. If you’re not yet a member of the union, email us for more information about membership.

This page was last updated Thursday 26 March 2020.

Assistance for members

Staff Association members that require specific advice or representation are encouraged to contact the union to arrange support. Contact us by email or speak to an organiser or workplace delegate.

Working from home

CSIRO advice (25 March) states that all staff should be working remotely – to support social distancing – unless an employee has ‘a critical need to be on site.’ The Staff Association endorses this approach; CSIRO staff who can work from home and have the necessary resources, should do so.

Capacity for working remotely

Staff should approach their line managers for any additional resources required to work from home. CSIRO have warned that the capacity of systems will be tested and are developing additional resources to cope with increased demand for remote access.

CSIRO has placed a priority on identifying alternative ways for staff to work from home if normal duties can’t ordinarily be done from home. Contact your line manager in the first instance.

NEW – Leave applications

CSIRO has updated its leave provisions for staff in response to the COVID-19 crisis. These provisions were negotiated and are agreed with the Staff Association. Please see the new leave provisions on myCSIRO and contact the Staff Association if you require support or representation.

The most important thing to emphasise is that CSIRO staff should be working from home if work from home is possible. If you are unable to work from home, the following leave arrangements will apply.

  • If schools or child care centres close, staff will be able to access paid carer’s leave. If paid carer’s leave credits are exhausted, staff will be able to access paid leave for specific purposes.
  • If staff are required to self-isolate, as a government or public health requirement, staff will be able to access paid sick and carer’s leave. If paid sick and carer’s leave credits are exhausted, staff will be able to access paid leave for specific purposes.
  • If staff are sick or caring for a sick family or household member, staff will use paid sick and carer’s leave. If paid sick and carer’s leave credits are exhausted, staff will be able to access paid leave for specific purposes.
  • If staff are directed to leave a site because work is no longer being performed or to manage a HSE risk, staff will be able to access paid leave, in accordance with the Release From Duty procedure.

Casuals and labour hire

If you are a casual officer CSIRO will pay your normal average salary – including loading – if you are required to self-isolate, are sick or caring for a sick family or household member.

In you are a labour hire worker or contractor, these leave arrangements do not apply to you directly. However, please contact the Staff Association for support and representation.

Paid Leave for a Specified Purpose

Paid Leave for a Specified Purpose ‘allow(s) staff to be absent from work for… special circumstances that are not covered by other leave provisions.’

‘Paid Leave for Specified Purposes is intended to allow members of staff to be absent from work for specific purposes which are considered to be beneficial to the career development of the staff member concerned, to CSIRO and/or to the Commonwealth.’

‘There is no minimum amount of Leave With Pay for Specified Purposes that can be taken at any one time’ and while there is an upper limit for the secondments, emergency service activities and other specified examples, ‘maximum periods are not fixed for the other categories of Leave With Pay for Specified Purposes,’ specifically the category referred to as ‘other special circumstances.’

‘Staff seeking leave for specific purposes should forward their request with all relevant details, together with a Leave Application form, through their supervisor to their local Human Resources staff who will seek approval.’

A copy of the policy can be found in the Human Resources (HR) section of the CSIRO intranet. Staff with questions about applying for this form of leave should contact HR.

International travel

As of 16 March, CSIRO suspended all international travel until further notice. On 24 March, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that the Commonwealth Government would implement a ‘do not travel’ ban on Australians travelling overseas.

Since 20 March, only Australian citizens, residents and immediate family members are permitted to travel to Australia. All international arrivals are required to self-isolate upon entry to Australia for a minimum 14 days.

Domestic travel

Domestic travel has effectively ceased due to government restrictions. Arrangements are being made for currently impacted staff and projects.

Site access

On site visitors are restricted and staff are encouraged to conduct meetings via video conference or phone hook-up.

Given the significant reduction in staff working on sites, CSIRO advises that ‘the availability of first aid officers and fire wardens may be limited… because of this we have reverted to ‘after hours’ mode across all CSIRO sites.’ Staff are to follow local instructions for after-hours protocol and to evacuate when required in the event of an emergency.

Although Staff Association access to sites is not legally prohibited, our organisers will be providing member support and representation activities by video and phone conference until further notice.

Field work

Individual field work may continue – subject to an updated risk assessment – however contact with vulnerable communities or individuals who are considered high-risk to being susceptible to the virus is not permitted; including the elderly and some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

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