Staff Association representatives are in regular contact with CSIRO Executives responsible for the organisation’s coronavirus (COVID-19) workforce response.
We believe that the safety of CSIRO staff should remain paramount and that financial disadvantage should be minimised for all employees – permanent, fixed-term, casual, contractor or labour-hire – as a direct result of management decisions or directions in response to COVID-19.
Comprehensive consultation with staff and their representatives must occur before decisions are made in relation to work conducted in CSIRO workplaces; as part of a gradual return of employees to physical work locations.
The Staff Association has also sought assurances from CSIRO on implementing stricter social distancing protocols at CSIRO workplaces, the implementation of control measures including modified workplace layout, increased cleaning and hygiene as well as measures to support staff with pre-existing medical conditions and susceptibility to illness.
This is a special resource for CSIRO Staff Association members. If you’re not yet a member of the union, join online today email us for more information about membership. This page will be updated regularly.
Assistance for members
Working from home
CSIRO advice (12 May) states that all staff that can work from home – to support social distancing – should continue to work remotely. The Staff Association endorses this approach; CSIRO staff who can work from home and have the necessary resources, should do so. However, CSIRO have also indicated plans to slowly and gradually increase the density of employees working onsite in keeping with Federal Government and medical advice.
Working from home resources
CSIRO has announced a work from home resource package including a centralised ordering platform with national delivery.
Staff will be able to order a range of kit and equipment to support working from home including a laptop, keyboard, mouse, headset, webcam and USB hub, height adjustable desk, an ergonomic chair and a computer monitor.
The program will be rolled out starting with Victoria (7 September), followed by New South Wales (14 September), Queensland (21 September) before all remaining sites (28 September).
UPDATED – Return to site plan
CSIRO has outlined a gradual return to work process consisting of four phases to occur over several months, initially forecast to be completed by late September.
However, CSIRO Executive have now advised (3 September) that return to site plans will now be staggered by location.
Victorian sites will remain at phase one until further notice, with most staff working from home with the exception of staff with approved priority for onsite work that meet the requirements of the State Government’s permitted worker scheme.
Metropolitan Sydney sites will remain at phase two or ‘soft close’ for the immediate future – with staff encouraged to continue to work from home – with a decision on whether to move to phase three reserved for early October.
As for the rest – CSIRO workplaces located the ACT, South Australia, Western Australia, Northern Territory, Tasmania, Queensland and regional NSW – these sites will move to phase three in September.
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.
The range of return to work issues that are important to Staff Association members include:
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 CSIRO management.
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 have released a strategy outline dubbed New Ways of Working and will design – in partnership with the Staff Association – a consultation process to involve the workforce on the changes.
CSIRO has updated its leave provisions for staff in response to the COVID-19 crisis. These provisions were negotiated and are agreed with the Staff Association. Please see the new leave provisions on myCSIRO and contact the Staff Association if you require support or representation.
The most important thing to emphasise is that CSIRO staff should be working from home if work from home is possible. If you are unable to work from home, the following leave arrangements will apply.
Casuals and labour hire
If you are a casual officer CSIRO will pay your normal average salary – including loading – if you are required to self-isolate, are sick or caring for a sick family or household member.
In you are a labour hire worker or contractor, these leave arrangements do not apply to you directly. However, please contact the Staff Association for support and representation.
Paid Leave for a Specified Purpose
Paid Leave for a Specified Purpose ‘allow(s) staff to be absent from work for… special circumstances that are not covered by other leave provisions.’
‘Paid Leave for Specified Purposes is intended to allow members of staff to be absent from work for specific purposes which are considered to be beneficial to the career development of the staff member concerned, to CSIRO and/or to the Commonwealth.’
‘There is no minimum amount of Leave With Pay for Specified Purposes that can be taken at any one time’ and while there is an upper limit for the secondments, emergency service activities and other specified examples, ‘maximum periods are not fixed for the other categories of Leave With Pay for Specified Purposes,’ specifically the category referred to as ‘other special circumstances.’
‘Staff seeking leave for specific purposes should forward their request with all relevant details, together with a Leave Application form, through their supervisor to their local Human Resources staff who will seek approval.’
A copy of the policy can be found in the Human Resources (HR) section of the CSIRO intranet. Staff with questions about applying for this form of leave should contact HR.
As of 16 March, CSIRO suspended all international travel until further notice. On 24 March, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that the Commonwealth Government will implement a ‘do not travel’ ban on Australians travelling overseas.
Since 20 March, only Australian citizens, residents and immediate family members are permitted to travel to Australia. All international arrivals are required to self-isolate upon entry to Australia for a minimum 14 days.
Domestic travel has effectively ceased due to government restrictions. Arrangements are being made for currently impacted staff and projects.
On site visitors are restricted and staff are encouraged to conduct meetings via video conference or phone hook-up.
Given the significant reduction in staff working on sites, CSIRO advises that ‘the availability of first aid officers and fire wardens may be limited… because of this we have reverted to ‘after hours’ mode across all CSIRO sites.’ Staff are to follow local instructions for after-hours protocol and to evacuate when required in the event of an emergency.
Although Staff Association access to sites is not legally prohibited, our organisers will be providing member support and representation activities by video and phone conference until further notice.
CSIRO Executive anticipate that visitor centres located at Parkes and Narrabri will open in early July to coincide with NSW school holidays.
No date has yet been set for the reopening at of the Discovery Centre at the Black Mountain site in Canberra.
From 18 May, fieldwork that needs to proceed may also recommence, providing it is carried out in line with any travel restrictions, and an updated HSE risk assessment is in place that addresses COVID-19 and other requirements.
News and updates