CPSU members’ rights at work during the coronavirus pandemic

We understand that many of our members have concerns and questions about the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Our union is taking action and advocating for the safety and rights of our members.

You may have already heard from us on what we’re doing in your area, but want to also provide an overview of what’s happening across our areas of membership.

Keeping you safe at work

All employers should have a coronavirus response plan to ensure safe systems of work and safe workplaces for all workers (including casual and labour-hire).

CPSU representatives are engaging with employers across our areas of membership to ensure these are in place and appropriate, including steps being taken to inform, consult and train staff about potential health risks and the measures being taken.

Alternative work arrangements

Workers may be required to take leave (or undertake work from home) in the following circumstances:

  • If they are unwell or caring for someone who is unwell.
  • If they are quarantined or required to self-isolate (based on latest advice from the Department of Health).
  • If schools, child care facilities, or public transport are shut down or similar major shutdowns prohibit them from attending work.

Your union believes that any leave provided in these circumstances should be paid leave and employees should not be asked to use annual leave or long service leave.

Workers without paid leave

Currently, there are 3.3 million Australian workers who do not have access to paid leave and this includes a significant number of CPSU members. Our union, and the broader Australian union movement, are advocating for paid leave to be provided to these workers.

We believe casual and labour-hire staff should be provided with paid leave so that they do not bear the financial burden of any quarantine, or risk attending work due to the impact of lost wages.

If you are one of these workers without access to paid leave, please take a moment to fill in our short online form so that we can keep you up to date on developments and your rights.

What have employers said so far?

Following is an overview of the different arrangements currently in place.


While APS Agencies are at varying stages of developing and clarifying leave arrangements for their employees, the APSC has issued the following advice on leave types:

  • Individuals who have been exposed or are required to self-isolate should be allowed to work from home or provided with miscellaneous leave if this is not practical.
  • Individuals who contract the virus must take personal leave.
  • Employees caring for someone with the virus must take carer’s leave, but then must self-isolate (working from home or on miscellaneous leave) when their caring role is over but while they are still a potential exposure risk.
  • If schools are closed employees can work from home or access carers leave if this is not practical.

At this stage, the APSC advice is silent on:

  • How the above applies to casuals, contractors or labour hire.
  • What happens if an employee runs out of paid personal or carers leave.
  • What happens if public transport is shut down and employees can’t get to work.

We will continue our discussions with the APSC and Government about these arrangements and our view that paid leave should be provided to all workers undertaking APS work.

The Northern Territory Public Sector

NTPS advice is that employees receive paid ‘special leave’ if they need to self-isolate and this also applies to rostered casuals.

ACT Public Sector

ACTPS advice is that employees needing to self-isolate should continue to be paid without needing to access leave entitlements.

Managers should try to make arrangements for casuals to work from home. Paid leave for casuals is discretionary and may be approved particularly where a casual works on a regular and systematic basis.

Labour-hire workers must follow directions to self-isolate. ACTPS will work with labour hire employers to assess potential for working from home and encourage wage continuity.

Private sector

Arrangements from non-public sector employers are varied and we are urging them to do the right thing, regardless of our members’ employment arrangements and contract status.

More advice

For the latest health and medical advice, please refer to up to date information from your relevant Health Department – Commonwealth, QLD, NSW, VIC, ACT, TAS, SA, WA, NT

We will continue to keep you up to date and encourage anyone who needs immediate advice and support to get in touch.

Our Member Service Centre is open 8am – 8pm, Monday to Friday, Eastern Daylight Time on 1300 137 636.

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