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Queensland govt defends ‘pandemic leave’

A key business group has criticised laws granting Queensland public servants a full month of “pandemic leave” but the government says the measures have been in place for nearly a decade.

Under the arrangement, public servants are entitled to 20 extra days of paid leave if they exhaust their sick leave in the grip of a declared flu pandemic emergency.

The policy, reported in The Courier-Mail, has been criticised by Queensland’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which says government workers already have some of the best leave entitlements in the western world.

‘It is worth reminding the Government, whose largesse is paid largely by small businesses and their employees, that the same conditions and pay most certainly do not extend to the private sector,” spokesman Dan Petrie said.

The CCIQ suggested the scheme was only recently introduced, but Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace said said it came into effect in 2009 amid concerns of a potential swine flu epidemic.

“Thankfully, these arrangements were not used then and they have not been needed since,” Grace said.

The current Public Service Directive says extra leave would be required in a flu crisis due to the number of public servants affected by school and childcare facility closures.

It would force working parents to stay home to look after their children.

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