Social distancing measures and working from home arrangements are set to continue at CSIRO as federal and state governments maintain widespread restrictions as part of a national response to the coronavirus crisis.
At the most recent meeting with Staff Association representatives regarding COVID-19 workforce policies, CSIRO Executives maintained that the organisation’s overall direction – working from home if possible and strict compliance with social distancing for work that cannot be performed remotely – would continue unchanged for the next 2 to 3 weeks.
While CSIRO Executive plans to review these arrangements following the provision of updated advice from the Federal Government expected midway through May; business units have indicated to the Leadership Team that current approaches can feasibly continue for up to two more months without causing excessive disruption.
The Staff Association COVID-19 information page contains useful resources for members on changed working arrangements, including advice on leave provisions and entitlements, working from home, travel, site access and field work.
While CSIRO has signalled there will be no immediate change in overall approach, Executive have also stated a willingness to consider case-by-case assessments of whether work can return to sites, with health and safety of staff being the absolute priority.
However, the danger of mixed messages is real, and the Staff Association maintains that failure to adequately consult with staff representatives has the potential to create unnecessary confusion during a period of heightened uncertainty.
While Staff Association representatives had been assured that CSIRO Executive would adopt a centralised and consistent approach to any relaxation of current practices; the union has received reports from concerned members that some business units may be in danger of jumping the gun.
The Staff Association’s primary objective continues to be the protection of the health and safety of CSIRO employees and their families. We will continue to meet constructively with senior executives to maintain a consistent approach where clarity of communication and purpose is a shared priority.
There’s no doubt that the potential easing of restrictions in the future will be complex and likely difficult. We’re committed to reaching a common understanding with management on how to best return to work in CSIRO workplaces, all the while supporting the health and wellbeing of staff.