Throughout the lockdown, TAFEs have remained open for students. Most institutes have been complying with the government’s recommendation that if employees can work from home, they should.
However, for some TAFE teachers, this has been extremely difficult, with some institutes not providing staff with the appropriate resources, training and equipment needed to facilitate remote learning or to work safely at home. This could lead to Workcover claims for injuries caused by home-use of equipment.
The situation caused by COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of consultation. Any plans that result in major changes to working conditions should have an agreed plan in place – one that has been consulted on through MEAIG or consultative committees – to make sure everyone affected understands the plan and has had a chance to provide feedback.
Where necessary, TAFEs have set up systems whereby students can attend on a roster to do practical learning and assessments, allowing for social distancing. Some institutes have not communicated well with employees regarding the cap in class sizes to ensure staff safety. Others have done a good job of planning, with plenty of consultation, ensuring staff and students feel safe and well-informed.
Some TAFEs are now planning for a return to work when this is appropriate. However at this stage, DET advice to TAFE institutes is to continue to offer face-to-face training where necessary and that online and remote learning will continue in its current form until further notice.