Are you an aged care worker who was required to come to work early and do a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) in your own time?
You could be entitled to some back pay. The United Workers Union (UWU) is launching an investigation into the legalities of unpaid RAT testing in aged care during the COVID-19 pandemic which could result in legal action and back pay awarded to affected workers.
UWU members have reported that their workplaces told them to arrive at work 10-15 minutes early to do a mandatory RAT before starting work and were not paid for that time.
UWU Aged Care Director, Carolyn Smith, said 15 minutes a day adds up quickly and that UWU wants to find out just how widespread this issue is.
“What we don’t know is exactly how widespread this is. That is why we have launched our investigation,” she explained.
“Aged care workers have been on the front line of this pandemic. Requiring them to show up to work early to complete a RAT test every day is essentially asking low-paid workers to donate their time.
“15 minutes a day very quickly add up – it is our view is that workers should be paid for this time.”
The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) also backed these sentiments, agreeing that workers should be doing RATs in paid time if it’s a prerequisite to coming to work imposed by the employer.
“But that’s where it’s become tricky: who is imposing the obligation? Is it the department or the employer?” said ANMF (Victoria Branch) Assistant Secretary, Paul Gilbert.
“I think in most cases, certainly now, it’s the employer, which makes that less complex because there is no mandate or requirement as such for visitors to be tested.
“So if employers are still doing it, and they’re the ones making the requirement that happen, RATS should happen in paid time.”
Each State and Territory has their own COVID-19 rules, but the responsibility to establish and enforce protocol at individual aged care facilities has been passed on from the Federal Government to the provider.
HelloCare contacted the Aged & Community Care Providers Association, but received no comment.
To take part in the investigation, visit the UWU website.