The Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance has published a letter of advice to its members about COVID-19 which speaks for the whole sector.
MEAA is prioritising ‘harm minimisation; protecting the health of those working in our industries; and helping rather than penalising those impacted by the virus’ and will ‘step up its monitoring of workplaces potentially affected by the virus.’
Journalists covering the issue are reminded ‘to take care of themselves, by being aware of overwork, and to follow medical advice on self-isolation if they believe they have been exposed to infection.’
Looking at the longer term, ‘MEAA welcomes media employers who have been on the front foot to make contingencies for potential quarantine periods, while continuing a ‘business as usual’ approach.’
MEAA urges employers to be flexible in the use of their collective agreements, and encourages employers with casual workers to offer the same protection.
‘The bottom line must be to minimise loss of employment and financial disadvantage for all workers in the media, entertainment and arts industries.’
‘MEAA urges action at two levels, for employers and for governments:
Beyond occupational health and safety obligations, MEAA implores employers:
- to implement formal and informal leave arrangements in cooperation with staff, especially where casual employment is concerned;
- maximise opportunities to work from home for those able to work;
- compassionately review carer leave arrangements for workers caring for an infected or quarantined person;
- ensure continuity of employment is unaffected by breaks in duties caused by the virus; and
- look for alternative work to be performed where employees or contractors cannot undertake duties at the usual place of work.
Ultimately, MEAA members and the community at large expect federal and state governments to manage issues proactively.
MEAA strongly supports the ACTU’s call for a further two weeks leave to be made available to employees and that equivalent entitlements be extended to individual contractors who are impacted by the virus.
Many media workers are already working at the economic margins as a result of intermittent work and relatively low levels of income security.
The capacity of this virus to incapacitate whole sectors is perhaps unrivalled. We urge those in control of public purses to use their best instincts and imagination to chart a course through these difficult times.’
Unfortunately, as the sector well knows, people work very closely together on sets and locations, and in production offices too, for long fatiguing hours, very focused on the job at hand. They may have come together from many different places.
This is not nearly as bad as the average kindy or child care centre, but the conditions do create hotspots for infection. And we can’t work from home and it is hard to claim a sickie. As they say, the show must go on.
At least we can all wash our hands.