NSW local government staff from several councils across the state have been reminded they are now eligible to take time off to get vaccinated without losing pay or affecting their existing sick leave entitlements.
The development is thanks to a special splinter, optional award that was developed in 2020 in a partnership between the union representing council workers, United Services Union, and Local Government NSW (LGNSW).
Bega Valley Shire Council, Snowy Monaro Regional Council, Yass Valley Council, Wagga Wagga City Council, Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council and the Snowy Valleys Council are among those which have opted in to the special splinter award.
It is estimated that across NSW, 45,000 council workers are eligible to leave work without loss of pay for the time reasonably required to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
The award will remain in force until April 2022.
The push to make use of the provision comes amid a wave of COVID-19 infections in greater Sydney as the region remains in lockdown, with 97 new cases announced on Friday, 16 July.
LGNSW president Linda Scott said around 150 councils have opted into the award, meaning 45,000 staff can now take leave to get their jabs.
“This new leave allowance allows council staff to get vaccinated without impacting their regular sick leave,” said Ms Scott.
“Councils are often the dominant employer in their particular area so their take-up of the vaccine can play a really important role in helping to keep local communities – their friends, families and neighbours – safe and healthy.”
Ms Scott said providing leave to allow staff to get vaccinated is the right thing to do, and the provision in the award will help councils to protect their workers as well as doing their bit in the battle against COVID-19.
She also reiterated that while nobody can be forced into getting vaccinated, councils should be encouraging their staff to get the jab where possible.
“For most people, getting the vaccine should be possible within two to three hours,” said Ms Scott. “Without seeking to infringe on individual circumstances and personal choice, councils will generally be encouraging all staff to get vaccinated.”
The award also includes a provision for staff to be redeployed where possible if they are unable to do their usual job while in isolation, and provides for three months’ pay on $858 a week if they are stood down.
Full details of the award can be viewed here.