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Tower of Power

Thousands of Qld public servants getting paid to do nothing

THOUSANDS of backroom bureaucrats are on full "pandemic pay" without doing any work, as private sector staff are stood down or sacked.

Queensland Public Service Commission data obtained by The Courier-Mail shows that 26 of Queensland's 230,000 public servants have caught COVID-19.

But 2501 bureaucrats in home quarantine, based on health advice, are pocketing full pay - even though they are not doing any work.

QPSC chief executive Robert Setter said the staff "are not working remotely, either due to illness or if they are unable to complete their normal work duties from home''.

"In these scenarios, Queensland public service employees unable to work and affected by COVID-19 are able to access paid leave entitlements,'' he said.

Mr Setter referred to the directive signed by Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace last month, which granted bureaucrats a bonus 20 days' paid "pandemic leave'' once they use up their sick leave.

The month's extra leave is 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 children if schools and childcare centres are closed.

With 272,000 Queenslanders expected to lose work as a result of the coronavirus crisis this year, private bosses are forcing workers to use up all their sick leave, holidays and long service leave during pandemic lockdowns.

Law firm HopgoodGanim has slashed staff salaries by 20 per cent, and partners have halved their income.



Mr Setter said all government agencies were using flexible work arrangements, including remote working and redeploying staff to different jobs or departments during the coronavirus crisis.

"We continue to support employees who are unable to work because they have contracted COVID-19, or those employees required to self-quarantine on health advice due to COVID-19 and are unable to work,'' he said.

"Where it is not possible for these employees to work from home they may apply for special paid leave.

"Special paid leave is granted at the discretion of an agency chief executive and is only considered once all other options to support the employee to continue working productively have been exhausted.''

Ms Grace and Mr Setter have also released a 13-page "implementation guideline'' for the pandemic pay directive, which includes a flow chart.

It says "vulnerable workers'' should be allowed to work from home, redeployed to backroom roles or given pandemic pay if flexible work is not possible.

Vulnerable workers are defined as the over-70s, over-65s with chronic medical conditions, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers who are 50 or older with a chronic medical condition, and workers with compromised immunity, heart disease, renal failure, severe asthma, lung disease, or poorly controlled diabetes or high blood pressure.

The QPSC data excludes staff from Queensland Health, which did not provide details yesterday about the number of workers with COVID-19.

Originally published as Thousands of Qld public servants getting paid to do nothing