CSIRO Executive have released details of a phased return to work plan as part of the ongoing response to the coronavirus pandemic, while at the same time suggesting that longer term changes to work practices – including increased remote working and reduced travel – are under active consideration.
Meanwhile, the Staff Association has called for members to participate in a ‘Return to workplaces’ working group to inform the union’s ongoing efforts to secure greater employee consultation and representation on coronavirus measures from CSIRO management.
Return to Site Plan
CSIRO has outlined a gradual return to work process consisting of four phases to occur over several months, forecast to be completed by late September. The first phase – currently underway until late June – involves the return of staff with priority work and project deadlines requiring access to labs, equipment or systems, or extenuating personal circumstances.
Phase two will start in late June and see workplaces remain in so-called ‘soft close’ with existing work from home arrangements encouraged to continue. However, those staff delivering important work not covered by phase one could expect to return to workplaces and affiliates performing essential work will also access worksites.
Starting early August, the third phase will see sites reopen for essential access and remaining staff, affiliates and students will return subject to assessment and approval from Business Unit leaders. Site density will be monitored closely, and overall workplace numbers will be balanced by the continuation of remote working arrangements.
The final phase in late September will see sites open for wider access however measures to enforce social distancing are expected to remain in place.
Business Transition Program
CSIRO has also indicated that long-term changes to work practices are already under consideration as part of the Business Transition Program (BTP).
This may include an ‘increase in blended working from home and the office arrangements, significantly reduced travel and an increase in the adoption of digital tools to enable collaboration’ on a permanent basis.
BTP participants are in the process of consulting with the CSIRO Leadership Team and ‘will soon be providing opportunities for people across CSIRO to help shape our new way of working.’
Call for consultation
The Staff Association believes the safety and wellbeing of staff remains critically important and that comprehensive consultation should occur before return to work decisions are made in relation to work conducted in all CSIRO workplaces.
There are a range of return to work issues that are important to Staff Association members including social distancing requirements, assessing health and safety risks, implementing control measures including changed workplace layout, increased cleaning, monitoring and reporting and policies to protect the health of vulnerable staff and their families.
Return to workplaces working group
The Staff Association is establishing a ‘Return to workplaces’ working group of members and delegates to provide timely and proactive advice to Staff Association officials and to better represent issues and concerns when making representations to CSRIO management.
The Staff Association is committed to continuing to work constructively with CSIRO management in coming weeks and months to facilitate the safety and productivity of staff in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
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