Telstra tells Australian office staff to work from home

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Telstra tells Australian office staff to work from home

Says move is precautionary and not due to a COVID-19 case.

Telstra has told all Australian-based office staff that can do so to work from home from next week until at least the end of the month.

The telco also said it had cancelled all events and meetings of more than 25 people, as well as all domestic air travel unless special dispensation was granted.

It said, however, that some staff would not be able to work from home due to their function within the organisation.

“It is important to note there are some essential operations which cannot be fulfilled remotely, including store and field teams, call centres, and some other functions,” Telstra’s group executive for transformation, communications & people Alex Badenoch said in a blog post late Friday.

“We will continue to have additional procedures and safeguards in place for teams not able to work from home.”

In addition, the telco said it had put in place “specific arrangements” in other countries where it had a presence.

Telstra said it took the decision because “global events [are] now unfolding very quickly” though it said that no Australian staff member had actually tested positive for the virus.

“We want to highlight that this is not due to a case of COVID-19 within our team,” it said.

“This unprecedented situation requires decisive action, and it’s important we are flexible and ready to adapt to this evolving situation. 

“Getting ahead of things now will mean we are prepared should the issue escalate quickly. 

“We need to maintain our focus on serving our customers and the essential role we play in connecting Australians.”

Telstra already enacted a new “global epidemic and pandemic leave policy” earlier this week, which it said offered “added support and peace of mind for our people, whether they’re permanent, fixed-term or casual.”

“If a member of our team doesn’t have sufficient sick leave to cover their absence, or carer’s leave to look after an affected family member, they’ll now have access to additional paid leave,” it said.

“This policy provides up to 14 days of paid leave where a member of our team is required to quarantine or self-isolate; doesn’t have sufficient (or any) carer’s leave; or where they’re caring for a child if their school or childcare is closed and unable to work from home.”

Telstra’s decision came a day after Atlassian shut its Sydney offices and told employees to work from home, though it made the call after a “service provider” at one of its sites displayed symptoms consistent with COVID-19.

It also coincided with a more serious response from the federal government that comes into effect on Monday March 16, which advises against running events with more than 500 people or conducting non-essential international travel.

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