More public servant benefits amid coronavirus outbreak

TEACHERS, nurses and police can now work from home or get a bonus two weeks' paid leave if they fear they've caught the deadly coronavirus.

Public servants who stay home for 14 days after potential exposure to the killer virus could work from home or access paid special leave, Queensland Public Service Commissioner Robert Setter said yesterday.

"A public servant who has contracted coronavirus may access accrued sick leave,'' he told The Courier-Mail.

"A public servant who self-isolates for 14 days because of potential exposure to coronavirus may obtain permission to work from home, or access paid special leave.''

The Queensland Government has not yet declared a pandemic emergency that would automatically grant all the state's 230,000 public servants an extra month's sick leave - even if they do not fall ill.

The government assumes that one in three workers will fall ill during an eight-week "pandemic wave''.

"Fifteen per cent of the workforce will be absent for approximately eight weeks of the pandemic wave, because closure of school or childcare facilities oblige working parents to stay home and look after children,'' a government directive on pandemic leave states.



"For every person in the remaining workforce who gets ill, another is absent from work because they need to look after a family or household member, or because public transport is not available for them to travel to work.''

Pandemic leave will give public servants a bonus 20 days' paid leave once they have used up their sick leave.

They can take the extra paid leave if they fall sick with a viral infection or need to care for ill family or household members.

Public servants will also be paid to stay home to care for kids when schools or childcare centres shut down, or if they are "unable to access public transport to travel to work''.

Once sick leave and pandemic leave is used up, public servants will have to take holidays and long service leave, like workers in the private sector.



They will not need a medical certificate, but must provide a copy of a record of attendance at a Queensland Health Influenza Assessment Centre.

"Where employees need to care for their children due to the closure of schools or child care centres or are unable to attend work because public transport is unavailable, they shall be able to access a maximum of 20 days Special Pandemic Leave once they have exhausted their sick leave accruals,'' the directive states.

"Where an employee refuses to attend work for fear of contracting the virus, such refusal is to be deemed as not reasonable.

"The chief executive (of a government department or agency) may then take disciplinary action and/or place the employee on leave without pay.

"Employees will be paid ordinary time salary if they are willing and able to attend work but are directed by the employer not to attend work.''


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