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COVID-19 support for Queensland Government employees

Understand the latest Chief Health Officer (CHO) directions and implications for Queensland Government employees.

Read the latest COVID-19 advice and help support employees in the workplace, and guide employment-related activities within your agency.

Employees required to be vaccinated

Employees may need to be vaccinated if they work in a high-risk setting as identified by the CHO.

Chief executives are authorised under sections 11 and 98 of the Public Service Act 2008 to give directions to their employees. This includes asking employees to be vaccinated to comply with CHO directions, or where there is identified risk to employees or others.

Employees can visit Queensland Health to book a vaccination appointment, or learn more about the vaccine.

Paid time to receive vaccination

If an employee cannot attend a vaccination appointment outside work hours, they can attend during work time without loss of pay. This includes travel time to and from the appointment.

Requests to disclose vaccination status

Chief executives can request employees share their vaccination status as outlined in the CHO directive or agency direction.

If an employee refuses to disclose their vaccination status when asked, they may be issued with a lawful direction to do so.

Chief executives can also request the vaccination status of other people entering the workplace (e.g. employees from other agencies) to ensure the health and safety of everyone.

Proof of vaccination status

Vaccination status can be proven by providing a copy of, or sharing a:

COVID-safe measures are in place in Queensland Government workplaces, including:

  • regular cleaning and disinfecting of high-traffic areas and high-touch surfaces
  • ongoing provision of alcohol-based hand sanitiser and soap for handwashing
  • ongoing hygiene practices and physical distancing whenever possible.

Promote a COVID-safe workplace by encouraging employees to:

See the Queensland Health website for more. Learn how to keep your workplace safe, clean and healthy.

Use flexible work arrangements when required to support Queensland public health directions and recommendations, and agency COVID-safe workplace plans.

Employees can use a blend of working in the office, working from home, other flexible work arrangements and staggered start and finish times to:

  • avoid congestion on public transport and in crowds
  • support rostering and other measures to manage attendance in the office and enable physical distancing.

If a workplace closes due to COVID-19, employees should work from a different location or access flexible work arrangements to ensure business continuity. Consult with your employees, employee representatives and relevant unions early and within the relevant legislative framework.

If an employee is not sick but is required to stay home in accordance with health directions, they can access flexible work arrangements. If this is not possible, they can apply for special leave in accordance with the Special leave directive.

If an employee is recognised as a vulnerable person to COVID-19, they may be entitled to additional workplace support. See Support for vulnerable employees below.

Work from home entitlements

Workers’ compensation entitlements

The Queensland Government has a duty of care to the health and safety of employees when working from home. Employees are covered by worker’s compensation if they sustain a work-related injury or become unwell during employment, and employment is a significant contributing factor to the injury or illness. Employees need to lodge a claim with WorkCover.

Visit the Workplace Health and Safety website for more.

Reimbursement for phone and internet costs

See your agency’s telecommuting policy for advice about the reimbursement of excess costs relating to telecommuting. Examples of excess costs may include additional charges for home internet where an employee has exceeded their data limits, or work-related telephone calls where an employee does not have an unlimited mobile telephone plan.

If your agency does not have a policy, you should consider applications on a case-by-case basis where excess costs have been incurred.

If an employee is identified as a close contact or tested positive to COVID-19 they need to follow the relevant Queensland Health directions, which may include a requirement to quarantine.

Employees should inform their manager immediately if they test positive to COVID-19 and have been in the workplace. Preventative measures may need to be put in place, such as requiring close contacts of the positive case to quarantine.

Consider working from home arrangements for employees identified as close contacts, or special leave if this cannot be accommodated.

Contact the Queensland Government Accommodation Office on 07 3719 7797 if you have a confirmed case of COVID-19 in your workplace. They will arrange cleaning and disinfection of your workplace.

WorkCover claims

If an employee can confirm exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace, they may be eligible to submit a WorkCover claim. WorkCover requires employees to provide:

  • medical confirmation of COVID-19 diagnosis; and
  • evidence to demonstrate that the COVID-19 exposure occurred within their work environment; and
  • medical confirmation that employment was a significant contributing factor to the contraction of COVID-19.

See Worksafe.qld.gov.au for more.

Employees considered vulnerable

An employee may be considered a vulnerable person to COVID-19 if they:

  • are 70 years or older
  • are 65 years or older with a chronic medical condition
  • are an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person who is 50 years or older with a chronic medical condition
  • are significantly immunocompromised or on immunosuppression therapy
  • have a medical condition and their doctor has advised in writing that the medical condition places them at increased risk and they require consequential work adjustments.

See People with medical conditions for more.

Supporting vulnerable employees

If an employee is vulnerable to COVID-19, or lives with or cares for a vulnerable person, complete the Supporting employees in vulnerable groups form (PDF, 2.0 MB) . This will help you assess risks in the management and prevention of injuries within the workplace, as they relate to COVID-19.

Work with the employee to find a way that enables them to continue working and meeting your agency’s service delivery requirements while protecting them or those they live with or care for from COVID-19.

Temporary adjustments might include:

  • remote working, including working from home, within the employee's current role
  • allocation of work that can be undertaken remotely, that may not necessarily relate to an employee's role, but is in line with their skill set, experience and existing level
  • deployment to an alternate, non-customer contact role
  • alternative hours, or patterns of work
  • working from another location
  • deployment to another role within the agency
  • mobilisation to another role in an alternate public sector agency.

If applicable, get the employee’s treating practitioner to review the Supporting employees in vulnerable groups form. They may request further mitigating strategies where appropriate.

Special leave

If a vulnerable employee cannot continue working while protecting their health, safety and wellbeing, they may apply for special leave in accordance with the Special leave directive. They should not access their personal recreation or sick leave.

If a vulnerable employee takes special leave, make them aware:

  • they need to remain available; you may need them to undertake flexible work if you find appropriate work for them
  • you’ll review the arrangement at least fortnightly to ensure it continues to fit the employee's circumstances and supports their ongoing health and safety
  • they need to inform you if circumstances change. For example, if the employee becomes sick or is required to provide care for an unwell family member, the employee should be placed on either sick or special pandemic leave.

Public service employees (defined under section 9 of the Public Service Act 2008)

Employees can access sick leave entitlements if they:

  • have tested positive to COVID-19 and are absent due to illness
  • need to provide care for a family member who has tested positive
  • have been impacted by school or childcare centre closures due to potential COVID-19 exposure.

See the Employment arrangements in the event of a health pandemic directive which provides additional pandemic leave entitlements for public service employees where sick leave balances have been exhausted.

Consider a combination of carer’s leave and flexible work arrangements if an employee is required to work from home and their children’s school or childcare centre is closed due to COVID-19. This request should be considered in the context of your agency’s business continuity plan. While your employee may access carer’s leave debited from their sick leave to provide care it should not be considered the only option available for the employee. Talk to your HR team for advice.

Casual employees (defined under section 9 of the Public Sector Act 2008)

See the Employment arrangements in the event of a health pandemic directive which provides paid pandemic leave entitlements for casual employees. See sections 9 and 10 of the Implementation guide for the directive (PDF, 575 KB) which outlines how it applies to casual employees.