COVID Special Leave: A Bold Move
An Unprecendented Situation
Little did we know early 2020 would change the business world and disrupt our lives in ways we never imagined possible. As the news started to break, fear spread throughout communities, and the economy came to a grinding halt. Movement restrictions were in place, businesses were transitioning to remote operations where possible, and organisations like IWC delivering frontline health care services were under immense pressure. We had no idea how long this would last and what this would mean for communities more broadly. This not only impacted the community negatively, but staff were scared. They were concerned about their families, they were concerned about their health, and they were worried about their livelihoods.
Despite the levels of confusion and uncertainty, most of which were caused by daily changes to updates and restrictions, IWC was proactive in supporting the continuity of our business, the wellbeing of our staff, and the accessibility of our critical services to the vulnerable and disadvantaged within our communities. Our response was innovative, solution-focused and above what our government was willing to offer. We implemented a "Special Leave Policy" for staff who contracted Covid-19 or were in close contact with someone who contracted the virus to access special leave on full pay. This was separate to and did not impact their usual leave entitlements. This was a costly and bold move; however, one we felt necessary for our staff and communities.
Why Special Leave?
This decision was made to reduce the risk of virus contraction; promote honesty and integrity; improve staff's health and wellbeing; maintain a safe environment for patients and clients; and support the health of our business. Today over 80% of our team have been infected with the virus, many on multiple occasions. IWC has contributed over $250,000 in additional leave provisions. This initiative allowed us to remain open during the pandemic, offer essential services and ensure our communities had a safe place to turn. We put our community at the forefront of our decisions and are proud to have kept our doors open over the past few years.
This experience will leave many of us with irreparable scar tissue; however, we are grateful we were in the position to implement such a policy; incredibly proud and thankful for our staff's efforts over this period; and hope to motivate other businesses and organisations to seek out innovative solutions for their staff.