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Home | Got a Minute | Career advice | No. 45 – My high-end co-working space isn’t COVID-safe. What should I do?

No. 45 – My high-end co-working space isn’t COVID-safe. What should I do?

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2 February 2022

I run a small business and our team works out of a premium co-working space. Whenever I have visited the space, mask usage has not been enforced, encouraged or observed by those who are there. Multiple calls and emails to management running the co-working space have not seen any follow-through or improvement. I want to move my small team out since I don’t think it is COVID-safe. Management is holding us to our contract and I would be well out of pocket if I move to find a safer space for my team while also paying out the lease on the co-work space. Do you have any advice?

I suspect it may be worth getting some legal advice. If the co-working space is not following your state’s COVID-19 regulations, you may have some leverage to be able to break your co-working lease. Your legal adviser may also be able to approach the co-working space management team on your behalf to reinforce their obligations to provide a COVID-safe workplace for anyone using it. Businesses are expected to comply with all health and safety laws and should have a COVID-19 safety plan in place, so you might also like to contact your state’s workplace safety authority for advice as well.

I am a 53-year-old male living an aimless life with respect to work. Thirty years ago, I did a trade, which I did not enjoy, to please my father. I was happy to leave the building industry to become a chef, but, unfortunately, I was quickly fired from my new job. Twenty years ago, I then copped bullying from my supervisor, which caused me to resign from another job, and then I encountered sexism in an industry dominated by women. Just before Christmas last year, I was fired or had to resign from three jobs in two days. I am now happy to be alone at home. But I do feel unhappy and cynical about life and I decline many social invitations, including with immediate family. Centrelink has told me to do a course in an industrial field, but it seems to just be an online course with frivolous, simple assignments. What do you suggest?

Gosh, what a tough time you’ve had. It’s such a shame none of your chosen fields of work seem to have worked out and it makes me wonder what you might have chosen to do straight from school if you hadn’t followed the path your father suggested. Is there any time during your working life you remember being happy that could help you think about what you might want to focus on now? You have said you are now happy to be alone which makes me wonder whether working from home somehow could be a good fit?

You do also mention you’re feeling unhappy with life, so please call Lifeline (13 11 14) any time you might need to. I know from experience – as one of the thousands of volunteer crisis support workers who man the phones at Lifeline – that if you pick up the phone and call them, someone will be there to listen. I sincerely wish you all the best.

I’m a registered nurse on a temporary contract with a state-run COVID-19 vaccination program. I received a six-month contract which will end in mid-February, but my new roster extends well past that day. I contacted my manager who said all temporary contracts will be extended until the end of May (although no one contacted me to tell me this). My union told me to sign a new contract, but the health department has said they won’t be providing one. What should I do?

First and foremost, thank you so much for the important work you are doing to keep so many people safe. It must be frustrating to have to worry about things like your contract when you are working extraordinary hours for so many others.

It seems things are moving rapidly within health departments in response to COVID-19 and so my generous read on your situation is that the administrative processes that would normally be in place are perhaps not keeping up. Have you been able to go back to your union to ask them about the next steps? I am sure there are probably many people in your situation so perhaps you could also go together to speak with your manager to sort the issue out?

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