COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

Advice for members about the COVID-19 outbreak.

These are the most important things that you can remember and do:

  • Keep your distance from other people in public.
  • Adhere to face covering requirements.
  • If you’re sick, stay home. Don’t go to work or school. Don’t socialise.
  • If you have symptoms of cold or flu call your doctor or Healthline and get advice about being tested.
  • Wash your hands. Wash your hands. Wash your hands.
  • Sneeze and cough into your elbow.
  • Regularly disinfect surfaces.
  • If you have been told to self-isolate you must do so immediately.
  • Keep a track of where you’ve been and who you’ve seen.

What are we doing?

Our organisers have been working with employers on their pandemic planning, particularly those agencies on the frontline of dealing with the risk of infection. We are continuing to work through issues with government agencies and employers that relate to your safety and your rights, including around redeployment.

If you are concerned your employer is not following appropriate health and safety measures on workplace prevention, travel, social distancing or isolation, contact your site delegates, health and safety reps or your employer. If you require urgent support contact the PSA on 0508 367 772 or enquiries@psa.org.nz.

 

This one-page resource has been developed by the GHSL, with support from the PSA. It is designed to help educate workers on the key controls used to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Employee Resource Reducing Spread of COVID19

Click to enlarge

The pandemic is a health and safety issue for many workers. The PSA is communicating with your employers regularly to ensure there are workplace safety controls in place. You are also encouraged to do this through your delegates, Health and Safety reps, and management using mechanisms established in the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.

Prevention is of course preferable, so follow Ministry of Health guidance for infection control and social isolation, as well as systematic cleaning of surfaces.

If you are concerned your employer is not following appropriate health and safety measures on workplace prevention, travel, social distancing or isolation, contact your site delegates, health and safety reps or your employer. If you require urgent support contact the PSA on 0508 367 772 or enquiries@psa.org.nz

Working from home

Many of you may still have the option to work from home. In order to make sure you stay safe and healthy at home, we have prepared a few suggestions. 

You can download these suggestions in PDF format here, or click here to download our Top Ten Tips for Working From Home infographic.

1. Stay safe

Make sure you have access to safe working conditions. If you’re working on a computer think about your desk set up and posture. Try and set up somewhere quiet with plenty of natural light and good ventilation.

2. Stay healthy

To maintain your physical health, ensure you get regular short intervals of fresh air, moving and stretching yourself. Just step outside or go for a brief and brisk walk around the block if you are able. Temperatures outside are dropping so make sure you have appropriate heating where necessary. It is important for your physical and mental health to eat healthily and to get enough sleep.  

Your mental health is as important as your physical health. Focusing on the things you can control can help to improve how you feel. A good place to start is the five ways to wellbeing. Answers to frequently asked questions about looking after mental health and wellbeing during COVID-19 by the Mental Health Foundation are available here. Further reading including resilience strategies, how to talk to children about the virus, podcasts and more are available here. The Ministry of Health has also compiled information to ensure your and your children’s mental wellbeing.

Under lockdown, it is normal to feel overwhelmed, stressed, anxious or upset, among a wide range of other emotional reactions. Some practical things you can do include to use a journal to write down how you feel, talk to others or do something creative. Also avoid excessive consumption of media coverage.

3. Have the right equipment

You will also need to have access to all the relevant equipment (such as an office chair and monitors) and IT software you would normally use in your day-to-day working life. If you need access to a programme you don’t have available at home, then talk to your manager. Your employer should pay for wi-fi needed for work if the person doesn’t have internet access at home.

4. Know what is expected

If you’re working remotely it is important to be clear about what work you are expected to carry out, especially if this differs from your usual tasks and duties. Talk to your manager and possibly write down what you are working on and what you will be able to deliver over a certain period of time. Getting agreement will provide you, your manger and your team with certainty.

5. Keep in touch

Stay in touch with your manager and your team. There are lots of different ways you can do this. You may want to think about setting up regular video calls with colleagues. You can also use email, phone and chat groups like. You should also stay in touch with your union delegates or organisers for any help or developments about what is happening.

Keeping in touch is important to ensure you, your colleagues and your manager are informed about each other’s work. It is also important to avoid loneliness and other negative mental health effects of being socially isolated. 

6. Maintaining work routines

It can be hard to stick to set hours when working from home due to a more flexible working regime. Domestic distractions, care responsibilities and blurred boundaries between work and time off can be difficult to navigate.

Ideally it is good to stick to your set hours and follow your usual work patterns while working from home as the boundaries between work and time off can become blurred.

However we understand this will be extremely difficult for many parents and caregivers who also have family responsibilities. Communicate with your manager and team members about your situation so you can come to an understanding about work expectations.

Follow your usual working patterns and stick to a routine where possible. Some might find it useful to keep a diary or use an online hours calculator to ensure good discipline around working hours. It is a good idea to proactively communicate your working hours to others in your team. 

7. Do not work when you are sick

Whether you have got coronavirus symptoms or another illness, if you’re too ill to work, you’re too ill to work. It doesn’t matter if you’re based in the office or at home – sick leave policies still apply. It helps to keep your calendar updated with any leave you might be taking (sick leave, domestic leave, annual leave etc.). It keeps your team aware of your situation.

8. What to do when you encounter challenges

Challenges when working from home can take different forms. It might be challenging to physically finding a quiet space where you can concentrate, separating care and work responsibilities, dealing with (pre-existing) anxiety or depression or domestic violence. To prevent, mitigate and eliminate challenges it is even more important that we are kind and generous towards each other. Look after your neighbours and check on people at risk regularly.

Those who are at risk or experiencing mental health and violence issues must not hesitate to seek professional help immediately.

Schools and childcare centers are now closed adds additional pressures on many families and parents’ care responsibilities. Information on how parents can maintain resilient and how to communicate with their children is available here.

Specific resources on COVID 19 and family violence can be accessed here. The Family Violence Information Line (0800 456 450) provides self-help information and connects people to services where appropriate. It is available seven days a week, from 9am to 11pm, with an after-hours message redirecting callers in the case of an emergency.

In case you need support with your mental health the following helplines are available

  • 1737 – Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor. 
  • Lifeline – 0800 543 354 or free text 4357 (HELP)
  • Youthline – 0800 376 633 or free text 234
  • Samaritans – 0800 726 666

9. Stay in touch with your union

We will be providing regular updates via our website and social media channels. Also stay in touch with your delegate or organiser. We are here to help and to share information. We can and must be union – especially under lockdown.

If you haven't already, we recommend checking that your details are correct on MyPSA.

 

You can also checkout Prospect UK's short video for advice:

Top 10 tips for working from home during coronavirus from Prospect Union on Vimeo.

  • Ministry of Health COVID-19: The Ministry of Health website remains the best source of information about the prevention and management of COVID-19 in New Zealand, including advice for varying specific audience on key topics such as: the border sector, people receiving hospice care, travel, deaths, funerals and tangihanga, and gatherings.
  • NZCTU: COVID-19 Information for workplace risk and workers' concerns
  • Employment New Zealand:  Guidance for employees, employers, and businesses around COVID-19 alert levels and the workplace, including leave and pay entitlements, and modifying employment agreements
  • WorkSafe NZ: Information on Workplace preparedness for novel coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • Work and Income COVID-19 support : Information about all subsidies and benefits available for businesses, individuals and whānau
  • Ministry of Social Development COVID-19 ReportingAs part of the on-going response to COVID-19, weekly, monthly, and other ad hoc reports are released to provide additional information on the income support system