Employee mobilisation service–Frequently asked questions

The COVID-19 pandemic is challenging all aspects of our lives and the lives of everyone in our community. As a public service, we must ensure we can keep supporting those members of the community who rely on us, and also help those who will require specific support as a result of these extraordinary circumstances. 

To make this happen, we are working together as a Queensland public service to ensure essential service delivery to the community and supporting our colleagues who need us. We have a long history of pulling together in times of crisis, and we know we get through the tough times by pitching in and working together - #BeHere4Qld.

1. What is the Employee Mobilisation Service?

The Employee Mobilisation Service (EMS) is just one of a number of ways in which you can contribute to the COVID-19 pandemic response (PDF, 453 KB).

All departments have agreed to mobilise employees to work beyond their agencies and across the public service to undertake and supplement essential and critical services.

The EMS has been developed to match available people with emerging demand needs.

The EMS is being coordinated centrally through the Public Service Commission.

Helping the state to effectively manage the COVID-19 pandemic is our number one priority, and we are mobilising all available employees to ensure that we are delivering on this objective. 

2. How does the EMS work?

Agencies are identifying those parts of their workforce that can be made available to support the COVID-19 response.

This might mean being mobilised to perform new duties that emerge as a result of the outbreak, or performing duties essential to normal operations that have been impacted by staff availability due to COVID-19.

The Public Service Commission is coordinating with agencies to place available resources in areas of highest demand.

Agencies will consult with relevant unions about the identification and employment arrangements of mobilised employees.

3. Why have I been chosen to be mobilised?

As a result of the pandemic, many planned work programs have been unable to continue in their current form. Therefore, we have staff who may be available to contribute to the COVID-19 response, which is the state’s immediate priority.

Employees are being asked to participate in the EMS because there is a greater need for their skills outside their home agency and those who could reasonably be made available to support these priorities are being mobilised.

4. How is this mobilisation different to Community Recovery/Ready Reserves?

Ready Reserves have already been mobilised to help with some short term and discrete tasks, such as supporting the Local Government elections and this may continue as a separate process.

Ready Reserves are generally mobilised for short periods of time under specific arrangements, to meet an emergent community need. This may be to help a community affected by a natural disaster to stand back up quickly and receive the government support they require.

This mobilisation is different to the Ready Reserves, as rather than seeking individual volunteers, multiple resources are nominated by their agencies to fill needs identified across the sector.

Mobilisation placements occur in line with ‘work performance arrangements’, where employees perform work for a different agency while retaining their existing employment conditions and employer.

5. What is the authority to direct me to be mobilised?

Work performance arrangements, where one agency agrees that its employees may perform duties in another agency, are allowed for in s 183 of the Public Service Act 2008.

Your home agency has agreed to provide employees to another agency as part of the COVID-19 response.

Your home agency can mobilise you to perform those duties as long as the direction to do so is reasonable and lawful.

6. Do I have a choice about being mobilised?

Employees from across the sector who are well and able to work are needed to support essential services and our employment framework enables employees to be mobilised to alternative work.

All efforts will be made to match your skills and experience with the duties where you are most needed, while at the same time ensuring we place available resources where there is the greatest demand.

You will not be required to do something that you do not have skills to do, or that places you at risk. If there are no genuine constraints, you will be expected to provide assistance where it is most needed.

The direction to mobilise must be reasonable and lawful. If you consider that your personal circumstances mean that the direction is not reasonable or lawful you should raise your concerns with your home agency manager.

Consideration will be given to balancing the need to deliver essential services with legitimate personal and family responsibilities.

Should you have concerns regarding your mobilisation, you should make all efforts to resolve these locally. You may seek advice from your union if you are a member and also access your home agency’s managing employee complaints process to assist you in resolving your concerns.

7. Can I express interest for specific work?

Where practicable, expressions of interest may be sought from employees who have already been identified for mobilisation, particularly where there are multiple roles to be filled at once (e.g. standing up a new call centre). However, where this occurs, your availability to be mobilised will still need to be confirmed by your agency.

If you have any questions, talk to your manager and/or your agency’s mobilisation coordinator.

8. I’m not sure I have the skills to do this work?

For the most part the skills required will not require extensive experience but you will be supported to upskill or reskill where necessary. You will be given appropriate induction information, along with the necessary training to carry out your duties.

You will most likely be asked to do work that relates to your existing skill set and experience or that builds upon your abilities.

Please raise any concerns with your home agency manager or placement manager as appropriate. We understand that this is a time of heightened anxiety for many and we want to work with you to ensure that your mobilisation is successful.

9. Can I do this work from home?

In some cases it might be possible to conduct alternative work from home but not always, and you may be required to work from another location.

This will be discussed with you to determine your availability to perform particular duties.

10. I am vulnerable because of my health or personal circumstances. Am I able to be placed in this mobilisation?

We are committed to keeping people safe during this process.

If you have pre-existing medical conditions, suppressed immunity, or have other specific circumstances you will not be placed into workplaces where risk cannot be appropriately mitigated.

We will seek to find alternative arrangements for you to still be involved in mobilisation. This may include undertaking duties remotely.

Your home agency manager should be aware of your circumstances, to enable them to identify appropriate duties for you.

11. I’m a casual or a part-time employee. Am I eligible to be mobilised?

Yes, you are – we need to mobilise all available employees.

As much as possible, you will be matched to perform duties that fit in with your existing work patterns (e.g. normal number of hours worked for casuals or part time employees).

12. How long will my mobilisation be for?

We are working our way through this together and at the moment the timeframe is unclear.

It is expected that most placements will be for months rather than weeks.

While we cannot be certain how long this initial phase might last for, we do know that we need to vastly increase our capacity to respond quickly.

13. How will my mobilisation impact my pay and conditions?

Your existing award provisions and industrial instruments will continue to apply during your mobilisation.

You will continue to receive your regular remuneration while you are mobilised performing other work. Your home agency will continue to pay you in the usual way and on your usual pay day.

As much as possible, you will be matched to duties with similar working patterns as their usual role.

However, some duties may involve different hours and other arrangements such as weekend work. You will be advised of this prior to the mobilisation and will be asked to provide your agreement.

If you agree to undertake roles that involve work outside your normal hours, you will receive remuneration (overtime) in accordance with your award entitlements.

If you would not normally be eligible for overtime payment, your home agency chief executive is expected to exercise discretion under industrial instruments for overtime payment.

14. I have been mobilised to a location that is further away from home than my usual place of work.

If your mobilisation means that you have additional expenses to attend your new place of work, you will be entitled to be reimbursed in accordance with the relevant industrial instrument, directive or policy for any reasonable additional travel costs that you incur.

You will also be entitled to accrued time off, or Time Off in Lieu (TOIL) for any extra time it takes you to travel to your new place of work beyond what it would usually take you to travel to your workplace.

Your entitlements are prescribed in your award, agreement, and whole of government directives and policies for hours, overtime and excess travel and domestic travelling and relieving expenses. The procedures for accessing these entitlements will be guided by your home agency’s policies. You should discuss this prior to your mobilisation with your home agency manager who will assist you further.

15. What information will I be provided before I am placed?

You will be provided with the contact details of your ‘placement supervisor’ who will be your primary point of contact throughout your placement. Your placement supervisor will responsible for your onboarding, and any questions you may have about the placement.

You will also be told where and when to arrive, and what to expect from the duties you are being asked to undertake.

Your agency’s mobilisation coordinator will also have these details, and is your primary point of contact from your home agency during your placement.

16. What happens if I, or someone I’m caring for, becomes ill with COVID-19 during my placement?

Your health, wellbeing and safety is of paramount importance.

If you or someone in your immediate family or household becomes ill, you may access your sick leave to recover or provide care in line with your existing industrial entitlements.

Should you exhaust your sick leave entitlements, the directive relating to the health pandemic provides for additional pandemic leave entitlements for public service employees subject to the conditions contained in the directive.  

You would need to advise your placement supervisor in the usual way, and appropriate arrangements would be made for your replacement depending on the particular circumstances.

You will also need to notify your home agency supervisor, to ensure necessary leave recording arrangements can be made.

17. I have some leave planned – what will happen with this?

Leave commitments should be discussed with your placement manager to see if they can be accommodated or deferred by agreement.

18. How will this help my career?

The future of work is all about agility and adaptability. ‘Soft skills’ are becoming more important, as service delivery shifts toward complex cases and specialised services.

What was ‘a career for life’ becomes a life of acquiring skills and experiences portable across multiple careers. Mobility will be essential. Working across roles, agencies and industries will increase your agility.

This type of broad experience builds agility and increases career opportunities.