Unions call for paid COVID-19 vaccination leave

The Australian Council of Trade Unions is calling on the Federal Government to provide aged care staff paid leave if they experience side effects from the COVID-19 jab.

The peak body for Australian unions has written to the Federal Government calling for four days paid leave for aged care workers to recover from any side effects of the COVID-19 vaccinations.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions is also calling on the Federal Government to deliver on its promise to provide COVID-19 vaccinations on-site at residential aged care facilities.

In its letter, the  ACTU proposes that aged care and disability workers receive two days paid leave for each COVID-19 dose  and that  employers arrange rosters to enable staff to receive their vaccine during paid time.

Union groups and aged care peak bodies have raised ongoing concerns about staff missing out on COVID jabs because the government failed to deliver the vaccine at their place of work except in rare cases where staff received leftover doses after resident vaccinations.

ACTU secretary Sally McManus said paid vaccination leave would support staff who would otherwise have to forfeit their pay if they experienced side effects from the vaccine.

“A large proportion of the aged care workforce is in insecure work and don’t have access to paid sick leave. It’s a disincentive for them to get the vaccine if they’re missing out on work and therefore pay to get the jab and deal with any routine side effects,” Ms McManus told Australian Ageing Agenda.

Sally McManus

The Government needs to support aged care staff to get vaccinated, she said.

The letter also calls on the government to introduce a comprehensive communications strategy in consultation with union groups to ensure aged care workers have adequate information about the vaccine and how they can receive it.

Ms McManus said the ACTU was taking this move now because of the slow vaccine rollout to aged care workers.

“The ACTU hopes that the Federal Government will provide paid leave for aged care and disability care workers, so that they don’t have to lose shifts and money to get vaccinated or deal with side effects. For our economy to recover we need workers vaccinated,” Ms McManus said.

Peaks add their support

Leading Age Services Australia general manager policy and advocacy Tim Hicks said LASA supported incentives to encourage aged care workers vaccinations.

Tim Hicks

“Concern about lost income or leave entitlements are a concern that has been expressed to providers and nobody should be worried about losing income as a result of being vaccinated,” Mr Hicks told AAA.

While vaccine hesitancy needs to be addressed, the main issue aged care staff are currently faced with is accessing the vaccine, he said.

“We need to make sure that vaccination is not just available but easily accessible to the aged care workforce. This means, in part, making sure that aged care providers can coordinate the vaccination of their workers for COVID in the same way that they do very successfully for the flu,” Mr Hicks said.

A spokesperson from Aged and Community Services Australia said it was important to ensure the vaccine is easy and convenient to staff.

“ACSA is open to new ideas to make it easier for staff to get the vaccine and we will work with government and the unions to explore ideas,” the spokesperson told AAA.

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Tags: acsa, actu, Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA), australian council of trade unions, covid-19, featured, lasa, leading age services austalia, sally mcmanus, Tim Hicks, vaccination, workforce,

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