NSW council staff eligible for paid vaccination leave

NSW local government staff from councils that have opted in to a special splinter award have been reminded they are now able to take time off to get vaccinated without losing pay or affecting their existing sick leave.

Linda Scott

LGNSW and the union representing council workers, the United Services Union (USU), worked together to develop the optional award which was approved by the NSW Industrial Commission last year.

Designed to respond to the impact of covid-19 on the local government sector, the splinter award operates in addition to state awards and enterprise agreements and will remain in force until April 2022.

The push to make use of the provision comes amid a wave of coronavirus infections in greater Sydney with Premier Gladys Berejiklian announcing on Thursday there had been 38 new cases of coronavirus over the past day.

The Local Government (COVID-19) Splinter (Interim) Award 2021, states that employees are entitled to leave without loss of pay for the time reasonably required to get a covid-19 vaccine.

45,000 council workers eligible

LGNSW president Linda Scott says around 150 councils have opted into the award, meaning 45,000 staff can now take leave to get their jabs.

“This new leave allowance allows council staff to get vaccinated without impacting their regular sick leave,” Cr Scott said.

“Councils are often the dominant employer in their particular area, so their take-up of the vaccine can play a really important role in helping to keep local communities – their friends, families and neighbours – safe and healthy.”

She said providing leave to allow staff to get vaccinated is the right thing to do the provision in the award would help councils protect their workers as well as doing their bit in the battle against covid.

Cr Scott said while no worker can be forced to get vaccinated, councils should be encouraging it.

“For most people, getting the vaccine should be possible within 2-3 hours. Without seeking to infringe on individual circumstances and personal choice, councils will generally be encouraging all staff to get vaccinated,” Cr Scott said.

The award also allows for staff to be redeployed where possible if they are unable to do their usual job while in isolation and provides for three months pay on $858 a week if they are stood down.

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