COVID-19 & OSHC -
COVID-19 OSHC Service Employment Response Strategy
Employers and employees should work collaboratively to address the challenge of COVID-19. Business, government and community leaders across Australia are expressing the importance of acting ethically as we respond to COVID-19. OSHC has a highly casualised workforce, making our circumstances even more vulnerable and complex.
Employers may be in a position where they able to not pay employees in the event of a stand down. There is speculation that additional financial supports will be available. Even if the opportunity is made available, there are significant implications for this decision for individuals and the economic factors (https://theconversation.com/covid-19-what-closing-schools-and-childcare-centres-would-mean-for-parents-and-casual-staff-133768).
Services need to ensure they are responsive to protect children, families and employees. Additionally, they should be contingency planning for events such as sick employees and possible school closures that also require closure of the OSHC.
Health and Safety
Employers, managers and employees all have a role to ensure the workplace is safe and healthy. There are instances where employers can and should require employees to stay away from the workplace.
More information on the specifics can be found at https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/doc/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-pcbus?20
There may be obligations for employees to continue to be paid (or not), depending on the circumstances, including if the employee is ready, willing and able to work. A good source of information for these provisions can be found on the Fair Work Ombudsmen’s COVID-19 webpage (link below).
Managing Self-Quarantined (or Infected) Employees
Employees sick with COVID-19, suspected to be sick or needing to self-isolate due to potential exposure cannot attend the workplace. Employers can direct employees to seek medical clearance from a doctor if they are acting reasonably, based on factual information.
Managing the entitlement of employees who are sick or self-isolating (or those required to care for a family or household member) can be complex. Additional provision have been made accessible from the Australian Government.
Casual employees are not entitled to sick leave.
Australian Government may reduce or waive waiting periods for payment for those meeting hardship provision to have access to JobSeeker Allowances or Youth Allowance. Casual employees impacted by COVID-19 should be directed to this assistance.
Full or Part Time Employees
Access sick leave entitlements
Once sick leave accruals have been exhausted, the employee can be offered opportunities to access other leave.
The employer could also offer special/compassionate leave, at their discretion.
Suggestions of Offsite Work For OSHC Employees
Training and professional development
QCAN will ensure a wide variety of professional development opportunities are accessible online in the event of service closures. These include webinars, online training courses, recordings and potentially other virtual professional forums. We envisage many hours of relevant training to be available for Queensland OSHC professionals (whose services are members) at no cost.
Alternative sources of training can also be accessed. For example, Edx (edx.org) which has free online courses available. These contain a variety of high quality material produced by universities around the world.
Professional Reading & Publications
There are many OSHC-relevant publications to support independent professional development. Sources and examples include:
All About OSHC – NOSHSA’s new OSHC journal
Journal of Playwork Practice
ACECQA’s Resources & Research material
Additionally, services and educators could take the opportunity to develop their own submissions for professional publications – including NOSHSA’s All About OSHC. Illustrating exceeding practice or insights about professional perspectives.
Traineeship and/or Coursework
Relevant employees could be provided with support and time to complete assignments for relevant courses to advance their qualifications.
Program planning and documentation
Using time to create plans for the future program. Your team could consider and plan for larger projects or create plans for diverse activities and experiences for children. Additionally, menu development and planning activities can also be included.
With many records retained on online platforms, educators can review, tidy-up or extend on documentation about the program. A review of how records are stored and used can be used to drive other quality improvement tasks.
Time is not often a luxury in OSHC services. The educational leader can champion a review of the documentation and form connections with literature, perspectives and observations. Teams can work together to identify exceeding practices and consider ideas to extend on these.
Review and Consultation on Key Service Documents
Policies are a critical element of education and care service operations. The opportunity to have time and space to be immersed in policy development is often limited. Often there are opportunities to outline specific steps in procedures for added clarity. Additionally, policies can include references to key laws and regulations throughout the documents.
A review of risk assessments for OSHC spaces, activities or other hazards (like risk minimization plans). These documents can be audited to ensure a high level of analysis and protection.
Development or review of documents such as:
Reconciliation Action Plan
Auditing digital records
Organizing/filing records, including those held on the CCMS provider software and staffing records. Ensuring all details are completed in full and address any issues.
Performance Management (Staff Appriasials)
Performance appraisals, reviews and planning can all be coordinated from remote locations using email, online storage and virtual meetings. There could be opportunity to design and implement 3600 feedback from educator surveys.
Educators can engage with OSHC Professional Standards to outline key areas for development and learning.
QIP Review and Planning
Amend changes to the previous QIP adding in relevant details and using online resources to add perspectives from educators.
Review and/or develop responses to the exceeding themes which draw out embedded practices and deep critical reflection. Responses can include references to literature and theory to enhance the service’s articulation of quality practices.
Teleconference Staff Meetings
Staff meetings can be held online. Platforms such as Zoom, Skype, and Hangouts can provide free (or low cost) virtual forums for team discussion. Being connected during this time will be critically important to reduce stress and impacts on employee wellbeing.
Educator Productivity and Utilisation
OSHC educators can be productively (and gainfully) employed during periods of low utilisation or temporary closure.
There are many tasks involving planning, quality improvement and employee/organisational development that can all be both relevant and useful for a service's future operations. In these challenging times, managers need to be innovative in how work is structured and organised to maximise financial supports and employment opportunities. Examples of productive work activities are itemised below: