COVID-19 support for Queensland Government employees

Read the latest COVID-19 advice and help support Queensland Government 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 follow health directions, including:

  • maintain physical distancing of 1.5 metres
  • wear a face mask if it is not possible to physically distance, and respect the choice of others to wear a face mask
  • maintain good hand hygiene
  • stay at home when sick and get tested
  • get vaccinated.

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 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.

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.

Employees should inform their manager immediately if they test positive to COVID-19 and have been in the workplace or are a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case. Preventative measures may need to be put in place, following Queensland Health close contact guidelines.

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.

Some employees may have an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19. An employee may have an increased risk if they:

  • are 65 years or older
  • have a medical condition
  • have a compromised immune system
  • are an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person aged 50 years or older

Further information on people with increased risk of severe illness can be found on the Queensland Health website.

Supporting employees with increased risks

An employee who is at increased risk of severe illness due to COVID-19 should be supported and their needs assessed on a case-by-case basis.

If an employee is at increased risk due to COVID-19, or lives with or cares for a person at increased risk, the Supporting employees in vulnerable groups form (PDF, 2.0 MB) will help you assess risks in the management and prevention of injuries within the workplace, and identify appropriate support strategies.

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, ask 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 an employee at increased risk due to COVID-19 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.

Employees may be able to access special leave in accordance with the special leave directive. Paid special leave is at the discretion of the employee’s chief executive and normally does not exceed five (5) days.

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 an 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.