Private health employee information for COVID-19
The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association is providing support and advice to any members seeking information regarding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Ensure you’re covered at work by joining the NSWNMA.
The Commonwealth Department of Health website contains detailed guidance for health sector workers and is updated regularly.
If members are concerned their employer is not following these guidelines, the NSWNMA can provide assistance to ensure appropriate measures are in place. Contact us.
Some employers offering leave assistance for COVID-19
You can request your employer to provide their relevant COVID-19 leave policy. If you need further assistance, contact the Association.
Mandatory vaccination requirements – 30 Sep
The Minister of Health signed off on this Public Health Order (PHO) on 26 August 2021.
The terms of the PHO include all those working in what we would know as the NSW Health Service (including the Ambulance Service). It also includes all private health facilities as defined in the Private Health Facilities Act 2007 (i.e. private health facility means premises at which any person is admitted, provided with medical, surgical or other prescribed treatment and then discharged, or premises at which a person is provided with prescribed services or treatments).
It also can include into the future any other person or type of health care work that the NSW Chief Health Officer may identify.
The PHO defines work as including: students on a student placement; volunteers; work done under a contract of service, including VMOs.
Those currently working in the above services need to be able to demonstrate that they have had at least one COVID-19 vaccination by 30 September 2021 and have received their second dose by 30 November 2021. Evidence of vaccination compliance or a medical exemption must be provided to your employer. If not, workers will not be permitted to enter and work at the facility.
The Association has made representations to the NSW Ministry of Health and NSW Government in relation to vaccine hesitancy. We have also raised concerns regarding the potential loss of a vital component of the workforce.
An exemption is possible on medical grounds, using this form approved by the NSW Chief Health Officer.
The PHO also requires employers to take all reasonable steps to ensure compliance by their workers.
Administration of COVID-19 vaccine
To access FAQs on administering COVID-19 vaccines, click here.
Government guarantee to private hospital sector
Thanks to ongoing pressure from unions and employers, on 31 March 2020, the Australian Government announced a partnership with the private health sector to secure 30,000 hospital beds and 105,000 nurses and staff.
The federal government agreed to contribute 50% towards activity funding, provided private providers retain their workforce. For further detail on the guarantee, refer to this document.
The Commonwealth offered agreements to all 657 private and not-for-profit hospitals to ensure their viability, in return for maintenance and capacity during the COVID-19 response.
In the first instance, enquire with your employer whether it has published a policy in relation to COVID-19 and self-isolation. You may also be able to access such a policy on your employer’s intranet if it has one.
If you’re directed not to attend work because you have COVID-19, are sick and/or exhibiting flu-like symptoms, then generally you will be required to take personal leave or sick leave. If you’ve run out of personal leave or sick leave then you should be able to access your other paid leave entitlements.
Leave entitlements during self-isolation
If you’ve been directed not to attend work due to self-isolation requirements then your employee entitlements will depend on your employer’s policy and the provisions of your award or enterprise agreement (see links to Industrial Instruments below).
Most private hospital nurses and midwives are covered by an enterprise agreement. Check it for relevant leave provisions, including personal/carer’s leave, and whether there are any stand down provisions that apply. If you require assistance identifying or interpreting your enterprise agreement then we’re here to help. You can contact us using this web form.
If you’re employed under the Nurses Award 2010 (only those without an enterprise agreement) and are required to self-isolate then it is reasonable for your employer to direct you onto personal/carer’s leave because you’re not able to work. If you’ve run out of personal/carer’s leave then you should be able to access other forms of paid leave that you have accrued.
Casual employees generally do not have the leave entitlements available to them that permanent employees have. If you’re a casual employee and required to self-isolate then your employer should consider standing you down on pay for any rostered shifts, although you are unlikely to have a legal right to the payment of wages for this time. Particular regard should be given by your employer to the length of your employment and whether you work on a regular and systematic basis.
If your employer has directed you not to attend work for reasons related to COVID-19 and you have not been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 or returned from overseas travel, then please contact NSWNMA for assistance.
Unfortunately employees in the private sector are not automatically entitled to the 20 days special leave made available by the NSW Government to its employees.
The above is intended as general information only and the advice in relation to each case will depend on its particular circumstances.
The NSWNMA will continue to provide further updates for members as we receive them. Contact us here.
Current Industrial Instruments