COVID-19: Update for SSOs

08 April 2020

It has been a very busy and uncertain time for SSOs as the Department for Education (DE) work to determine what schooling will look like in Term 2, and how SSOs can support students in the new learning environment, while also trying to stay safe and healthy in a workspace where physical distancing is all but impossible.

The PSA has been in contact with the DE to discuss contract employment, vulnerable staff, and consistency of provision of staff entitlements across schools, among other things.

Vulnerable staff in the first instance should lodge a request to work from home, which can be done here. Many of you hold concerns about how that would work in your role. We encourage you to lodge the application irregardless. The school may have some alternate duties they can provide or you can work with leadership, and if necessary, the union and the Department, to figure out new ways of achieving outcomes.

A number of site-based issues that members have informed us of have been sent to People and Culture Operations for action, including schools not offering further contracts in line with the commitment from the Department outlined in our previous brief here. It is important that you keep providing these examples to us and also let us know about any updates by email.

Wellbeing
At this time of change it is very important that you look after yourselves and each other. As many of you will have read there is much discussion about physical distancing rather than social distancing.

This looks different in the workplace to how it looks at home but the principle remains the same. Check in on your self first. This is like the air plane safety message, you cannot help others if you are not okay yourself. The South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) has developed an online Mental Health Check to support people who feel their well-being might be at risk.

Access this here: www.bewellplan.com

Finances
There have been announcements from the Government recently about cashing out Superannuation or Recreation and Long Service Leave Entitlements. The PSA has written to the Government stating we are opposed to this idea as it is not in line with Industrial rights and has potential negative implications for workers who may want to access Centrelink payments. Lower paid employees and those in insecure work are most at risk from the consequences of cashing out super or leave.

SSOs should also be wary of taking informal advice from peers or leadership when comparing continuing employment or taking Government Job Seeker benefits. Such a decision should only be made on sound financial advice or personal choice, not based on advice from your school that you may be better off not to request a contract.

Solidarity
In these uncertain times, being a union member is important so we have the influence and collective protection to ensure management treats our members fairly and keep them safe. It is also a good idea to join the union in case there is a need for individual support.