CEO denies claim council won’t let staff work from home
GYMPIE Regional Council CEO Bernard Smith has denied a claim council staff are being put at risk in the pandemic by not being allowed to work from home if they can.
A council employee, who asked to remain anonymous, accused the CEO yesterday of “actively refusing to allow staff capable of working remotely to work from home, despite both State and Federal directives for all organisations across Australia to do so”.
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They said it was especially worrying given “many” council staff commute from the Sunshine Coast, which has reported “over 50 confirmed COVID-19 cases”.
“Instead of helping prevent the spread of the virus to the Gympie community, this is in fact encouraging it,” they said.
Mr Smith said staff health and safety was “of utmost importance”. “Council already has in place a working from home process for staff, with a small number of staff using this system,” Mr Smith said.
He said other working from home options were being implemented.
“With over 500 staff this is not a simple change to the workforce, and we need to consider such aspects as the service levels for our community and the ICT needs for staff to do this, to name a few,” he said.
Measures the council had installed for staff safety included: ensuring distancing with a limit on the number of people allowed in common areas and meeting rooms; moving all work stations at least 1.5m apart; increased cleaning of common “touch points’ throughout the organisation; and changing work practices for office and field employees where possible. “We have also closed areas of risk and asked staff to ensure they follow all health recommendations. I am sorry that the staff member has concerns and I hope they feel they can come and discuss their concerns with myself or with their manager or supervisor,” he said.