Full pay for public servants during coronavirus closures
TEACHERS and bureaucrats will get full pay indefinitely if schools and government offices are shut down in coronavirus closures.
But government workers - including doctors, nurses, police and teachers - risk suspension if they refuse to work for fear of catching COVID-19.
A new Queensland Public Service Commission directive reveals that casual staff, including teachers and nurses, can now access a bonus 20 days' paid "pandemic leave'' once they have used up their sick leave.
The month's extra pandemic leave will be paid to public servants who are sick or in quarantine, or caring for someone else.
Taxpayers will also pay for public servants to stay home if they can't get to work on public transport, or need to care for kids if schools and childcare centres shut down.
"Employees will be paid their regular remuneration if they are willing and able to attend work but are directed by the employer not to attend work,'' the directive states.
"In a health pandemic, a chief executive may exercise their discretion to grant special leave to a casual employee.
"Employees who are absent from work as a result of the health pandemic may not be required to submit a medical certificate.''
The COVID-19 provisions for public servants are more generous than a 2018 directive covering influenza pandemic.
Public servants can access more paid leave than workers in private companies, who generally have to use their own sick leave and annual leave to stay home.
Government workers could be sent home on full pay if they cough or sneeze at work.
The 2020 directive, issued this week by Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace, says that public servants "with symptoms of a viral infection should be directed to remain away from the workplace for the recommended self-isolation time determined by health authorities or until they are cleared to return to work''.
This means that public servants can be sent home if they have a cough or runny nose - even if they have not been overseas or in contact with an infected person.
"Employees who exhibit symptoms of a viral infection while at work should be directed to leave the workplace,'' the directive states.
"Where a health pandemic requires an employee to self-isolate in accordance with health advice and the employee is not sick, and they are not able to undertake flexible work arrangements, the employee may apply for special leave which is granted at the discretion of chief executives.
"Where employees are unable to attend work because they are reliant on public transport and services are suspended or cancelled … the special leave will apply.''
The directive says public servants who are directed not to attend work - such as teachers if schools are closed - will be continue to be paid their normal wage without using up any type of leave, unless they can work flexibly or from a "reasonable alternative workplace''.
But they risk suspension if they refuse to attend work "for fear of contracting the virus''.
"Where an employee refuses to attend work for fear of contracting the virus and such refusal is deemed as not reasonable, the chief executive may consider disciplinary action and/or suspension as appropriate,'' the directive states.