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Industry demands special leave for mine workers infected by coronavirus

Manigurr-Ma Camp
Manigurr-Ma Camp

Resources workers must be offered extra paid time off if they are unable to perform duties due to a deadly disease, industry bodies have said.

The Australian Workers Union (AWU) and Construction Forestry Maritime Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) have demanded mining companies to continue to pay workers, who are quarantined or self-isolate due to the coronavirus (covid-19), without affecting normal leave entitlements.

Make entitlements available

“Employees should be afforded two weeks’ special leave,” AWU national secretary Daniel Walton CFMEU national president Tony Maher said in a joint public statement. “After the two weeks of special leave, the normal practice should apply. This means that the employee’s normal personal/carer’s leave entitlements should be available.”

In circumstances where mine workers have not accumulated enough personal or carers leave to compensate for all rostered shifts, employers should provide extra personal or carers leave.

“[This can be paid] either as an ex-gratia benefit or as an advance on future personal/carers leave entitlements,” Walton and Maher said. “In circumstances where an employee is a labour-hire casual, the mine operator/client should fund the rostered shifts not worked, either directly to the employee or via the labour-hire provider.”

Cover out of pocket costs

If a medical certificate is required to confirm a mine worker is not infected with covid-19, the employer should pay the relevant medical expenses plus rostered hours missed due to the appointment.

In the case of mining companies resorting to standing down staff, they should discuss the proposal with workers and union representatives before taking action.

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“Where the stand down is for a defined period of 14 days or less, the mine operator should meet the cost of the stand down by paying its own employees and the employees of labour hire contractors a special leave payment equivalent to the rostered shifts lost during that 14-day period,” the pair said.

“Where an employee is a labour hire casual, the mine operator should make available to that employee, either through the labour hire provider or directly, a special leave payment for any rostered shifts not worked based on a calculation of annual leave entitlements the employee would have accrued whilst employed at that mine site had that person been a permanent employee.”

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