Should you be allowed to work from home if you can, or stay home, if you have nothing to do at work?
Different employers are handling this differently which is not helping. Some consider business as usual to operate simply because they operate in the health setting. PRG (Pacific Radiology Group) for instance is requiring mammographers to continue to screen women and even advising patients from as far away as Ashburton or Kaikoura is to Christchurch, to travel to appointments. In some hospitals we have even seen managers insisting staff stay at work to do filing and cleaning.
APEX views this matter as one of health and safety. In lockdown level 4 we are “all” at home and required to stay home to stop the spread of the virus. This protects us and others. For employees keeping you safe from exposure and transmission is an employer’s responsibility and whilst Health is an essential service, balancing the urgent or essential needs of patients against workers rights to a safe and healthy workplace must also be considered. If you do have to be at work because essential services need to be maintained, the employer must provide appropriate PPE and other risk mitigating means including access to vaccination. However, if you do not need to be put at risk even better – hence working from home or even staying home if there is nothing for you to do at work (as in the case of Anaesthetic Technicians when theatres are shut).
APEX has been engaging with a number of employers on this front including CDHB, Waikato DHB, HBDHB, PRG, and Lakes as well as seeking further clarity and the application of consistent and best practice across the country at our national DHB and Unions forum as well as through the Ministry of Health. APEX advocates for those directly affected will no doubt be staying in touch with delegates as we try to ensure best practise on the grounds of health and safety is applied.