UPDATE AS AT 0930 26 MARCH 2020

From: COMMISSIONER OF POLICE Sent: Thursday, March 26, 2020 9:29:28 AM To: QPS ALL Subject: An important update on PPE for COVID-19

Colleagues

While we continue to navigate our new normal in response to COVID-19, I understand the concerns held by members for their health and safety. These concerns are completely understandable, and I want to reassure you that I am taking your health and safety incredibly seriously.

PPE supplies

I know you are concerned about our current levels of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), however I would like to assure you the QPS has sufficient PPE, including masks (over 19,500), eye wear, gloves, sanitiser, anti-bacterial wipes and disinfectant spray on hand to meet our immediate needs.

We have been working incredibly hard to source more of these items and we have additional masks on order due to arrive soon. The QPS has the supply chains in place, to ensure you all have the protective equipment you will need.

Now is not the time to be keeping supplies you don’t need or using PPE when it is not required. Now is the time for us all to work together, liaise with the Task Force and ensure supplies are distributed where they are needed.

It is also important to fit and remove PPE correctly so that it is effective. Here is a guide for the correct process for fitting and removing PPE.

When to wear PPE

Based on the current advice given to us by health authorities, the transmission of COVID-19 is linked to close contact with an infectious person, contact with droplets from an infected persons cough or sneeze or touching objects or surfaces contaminated with droplets from a confirmed person with COVID-19.

At this current time, PPE should only be used when you are in close contact with any person who has moderate or severe flu-like symptoms or close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19. In these circumstances, you may also provide a mask to the person you are in contact with.

###pwhen to use PPE and when not to.

We are working incredibly hard to ensure you have all of the information you need. Further details can be located at COVID-19 SharePoint site and the COVID-19 Workplace Group.

Thank you for the incredibly dedicated work you are currently undertaking to ensure our communities are supported throughout this challenging period.

This is no doubt one of the greatest challenges we have ever faced and I am acutely aware of the demands placed upon our Service at this time, as well as the fear and uncertainty within our communities, workforce as well as the concerns that your own family and friends will be facing.

It is so important to me that we are compassionate towards one another; we communicate clearly; and we remain responsible for compliance – not only within our workforce but also in our interactions with the community.

KATARINA CARROLL APM

COMMISSIONER



Queensland Police Union COVID-19 Update - As current at 1820 25 March 2020

Update – COVID-19 Leave Entitlements

  1. I am pleased to advise that the QPUE has negotiated new leave entitlements for members returning from overseas. Those members returning from OS will now be grated Special Leave during the two week self-isolation period. These members will no longer be required to utilise approved Annual Leave and/or Long Service Leave during this period and will have this leave re-credited. The provision is as follows:

 

Returning from Overseas

In situations where an employee on leave has returned from overseas and is required to self-isolate for a 14 day period, the member will have your approved annual/long service leave re-credited for the period of isolation.

If the initial period of your leave exceeds the period of isolation, the credit will only extend to your period of isolation. Any additional approved leave beyond the isolation period will continue to be accessed unless exceptional operational requirements exist.

Employees who are in isolation should immediately contact their Officer in Charge or Manager to make arrangements to work from home. If the Officer-in-Charge or Manager advises it is impractical for you to work from home, you will be granted special leave for the period of isolation.

  1. The QPS also reiterated their position on members with approved leave outside of the self-isolation period.

Members With Approved Leave

Apart from the exception outlined above for members returning from overseas, the QPS has advised as follows:

As you know the health and wellbeing of all QPS employees remains our number one priority whilst balancing our commitments to community safety. To support this, the QPS position in regards to leave management at this time, is that employees with current approved leave should continue to access this leave.

 

The QPS are not proposing to relax the 228 (or 250) limit on Annual Leave at this stage, but all members should continue to take every effort to stay informed around the arrangements for leave as the situation is likely to be subject to change.

  1. The situation for members required to self-quarantine for other reasons has not changed.

 

Where an employee is self-quarantining and is not sick

###ppaid Special Leave (emergent/compassionate) for the 14-day quarantine period where the employee is required to self-quarantine and the employee is not exhibiting symptoms or is not sick and cannot work flexibly from home. If the employee subsequently develops symptoms and becomes ill, the officer immediately ceases special leave and is required to access their own paid sick leave (use “pandemic” as reason for absence). Where their sick leave is exhausted, the officer can then accesses up to 20 days paid Pandemic Leave in accordance with ###a href="Ministerial" class="redactor-linkify-object">https://www.forgov.qld.gov.au/... Directive 01/20.

Work From Home

 

Members who have to self -isolate will still have the option to “Work From Home” (approved by their OIC). In this case members will not be required to use any leave.

 

All employees and line managers are able to initiate discussions about the ability for the employee to work from home or an alternate location during the COVID-19 pandemic. There is a new policy – “Flexible Working Arrangements (Alternative Workplaces) Policy” relating to working from home or an alternate location which remove normal requirements for WHS audits.

  1. As previously advised, the Commissioner of Police has approved Special Leave and Pandemic Leave.

 

These Leave provisions are as follows:

 

Where an employee is sick

 

###pMinisterial Directive 01/20.

Therefore, members who DO NOT contract the virus from work will (or have their claim rejected by Workcover)

·       Firstly use their personal sick leave;

·       Secondly use the “Pandemic Leave”;

·       Thirdly use the Sick Leave Bank (sworn members only).

 

Sick Leave Bank (Sworn Members Only)

 

We believe that the Sick Leave Bank is in a strong position to meet member needs. The current balance of the SLB is approx. 473,000 hours or approx. 3 years’ worth of contributions. The strict enforcement of SLB guidelines in the past has ensured that the SLB is in a very strong position to meet a crisis such as this. This is not to say that the need for additional leave contributions will not ultimately impact on the SLB, but we will make a decision about the need for extra-ordinary meetings or additional contributions to the SLB at that time.

Workcover

Members who believe that they have contracted the virus through work will apply for Workcover – we will refer members directly to Sciaccas Lawyers for assistance, at no cost to the member. If their claim is accepted, they will not have to use Sick Leave or Pandemic Leave – their absence will be covered by Workcover.

Where an employee needs to remain at home to care for an ill family or household member, or a child due to school/child care centre closures or self-quarantining

###pcarer’s leave debited from their own paid sick leave. Where their sick leave is exhausted, the employee then accesses up to 20 days paid pandemic leave in accordance with ###a href="Ministerial" class="redactor-linkify-object">https://www.forgov.qld.gov.au/... Directive 01/20.

Where required, such employees, in lieu of providing a medical certificate for the ill family or household member from a medical practitioner, can provide a copy of the test results where indicated as positive to COVID-19.

Employees who remain at home to care for a family or household member who had tested positive to COVID-19 may return to the workplace after producing a medical clearance for the ill family or household member and have followed Q Health guidelines.

Those employees who remain at home to care for a child who is self-quarantining and is not ill and does not test positive to COVID-19 may return to the workplace once test results are known. Alternatively, an employee, where the child is unable to return to school or child care due to closures, may enter into an agreed arrangement to work from home.

Removal of 7 Year Long Service Leave qualifying period

 

20 days Pandemic Leave is a one-off amount over the period of the COVID-19 pandemic. Once utilised, employees must access their own Annual Leave/Long Service Leave where sick leave if relevant is exhausted. The minimum continuous service period of seven years and minimum period of leave to be taken at any one time does not apply to any long service leave taken under these arrangements, as outlined in Ministerial Directive 01/20.

 

###p###a href="www.qpu.asn.au" class="redactor-linkify-object">http://www.qpu.asn.au">www.qpu...

 

MICK BARNES GENERAL SECRETARY    



Queensland Police Union COVID-19 Update - As current at 20 March 2020



1.    If / when we get to Tiers 1 – 3 and possible Officer exposure can officers be directed to shave off beards and moustaches to reduce the risk of exposure;

Yes – They are at greater risk, as facial hair inhibits the ability to achieve a seal on a face mask.

2.    With discreet communities being classified as higher risk and potential requirement for deployment of Officers to these areas; what will be the quarantine requirements upon return from deployment? Will it be rostered if they do not display symptoms?

Qld Health advise self-quarantine is only required if a person (the officers) has been in close contact with a confirmed case.

·      Close contact = more than 15 minutes face-to-face or more than two hours in a closed space; in the 24 hour period before the onset of their symptoms


3.    What protections are around Officers that may not have disclosed medical conditions that place them at higher risk eg hypertension, chemo, type 1 diabetics, low immune symptoms;

All officers are receiving the same advice from QPS with regards to PPE and what action to take if they are exposed, or display symptoms of COVID-19. If an officer is immune compromised and has not notified QPS we are unaware and unable to offer specific support that may be required. The officer would be responsible to ensure they utilise the PPE resources provided by QPS. The officer has a responsibility to their themselves to seek medical advice specific to their condition and the effect of COVID-19. We also refer to Code of Conduct and WH&S requirements on individual employees relating to putting themselves at risk.

 

4.    Does the QPS have a policy in relation to high risk employees?

There is no specific policy on this. All employees are able to discuss with their OIC/manager the option to work from home or an alternate workplace. Many employees are already doing this. And certainly, we expect that those employees who are at increased risk of adverse impacts from the COVID19 virus, eg immune compromised, should have already had the conversation with their OIC/manager. Also see question 5 above about precautions at home when a member of the household is more at risk.

 

5.    If the requirement arises and officers are directed to cancel leave is there an avenue for officers to recoup costs for accommodation, activities etc that are not covered by travel insurance;

Will be considered for reimbursement on a case-by-case basis. It is incumbent on the officer to advise of potential costs to be incurred (after any insurance reimbursements or refunds/credits received) if leave was to be cancelled prior to a final decision being made.

 

6.    In the event that officers are exposed to COVID-19 as a result of their duties and have elderly or ill family or residents in their homes and require isolation or quarantine will the service remunerate for alternate accommodation;

###i###a href="https://www.health.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/2020/03/coronavirus-covid-19-information-about-home-isolation-when-unwell-suspected-or-confirmed-cases_0.pdf" class="redactor-linkify-object">https://www.health.gov.au/site...

 

7.    With the return of many members from high risk areas will they access recreation leave, sick leave, LSL or will it be rostered if they are required to quarantine and do not have the ability to work from home (eg Constable that does not have a function to perform).

Generally, officers will only be required to self-quarantine where in close contact with a confirmed case. Will be covered by the Ministerial Special Leave Directive entitlement re emergent/compassionate for quarantining and not sick. Where sick, normal sick leave applies as per the Pandemic Directive.

8.    Will the QPS be considering a relaxation of the 228 hour requirement to take Annual Leave?

Not at this point in time.

9.    Has the QPS developed an advice about procedures when the public are visiting stations?

Advices are currently under development which will cover information about adopting preventative measures including social distancing, good hygiene, etc.

 

10. If members attend a 501 (sudden death), do they suit up and wear PPE?

Officers are to follow normal infection control procedures when dealing with a deceased person. If the deceased person was positive for COVID-19 when passing, they will not be exhaling any infected respiratory droplets. There may however still be active respiratory droplets on the deceased person or on surfaces. Subsequently gloves should be worn, and the officer not touch their eyes, nose or mouth whilst in attendance. The officer should also regularly wash their hands or use alcohol based hand sanitiser.

 

11. An emerging issue will be the ability of members to get a clearance to return to work when they have been ill or looking after ill family members. We need to consider what options are available.

Currently, sworn officers are required to provide a medical clearance to return to work. This may need to be reviewed where changes in capacity for doctors or hospitals to see patients occurs.

 

12. Another emerging issue will be the procedures for members moving to and from indigenous communities. The QPS has already identified the significant risk of members returning to these communities as the community is ‘vulnerable’. With an identified high risk population being discreet communities there has been a necessity to continually complete deployments to supplement the current staffing. There has also been suggestions that these entire communities could be “self-isolated”. If special arrangements are put in place, there will be numerous issues to address including:

o Will members being deployed be tested for COVID19?

No. Queensland Health guidelines on testing would apply, and no police showing any symptoms should be deployed.

 

 

o Should members whose substantive positions are in these communities – and have been away from the community – have to self-isolate for 14 days as well as a testing regime prior to them returning to the community?

No. Queensland Health guidelines on testing and self-quarantining would apply. This applies to all agencies where employees are entering the communities.

 

 

o Will officer be required to undergo further testing or isolation if members within those communities are Infected?

Only as per Queensland Health guidelines where they meet the criteria for “close contact”.

 

 

o Will the QPS place restrictions upon members within those discreet communities from leaving on rest days or other leave periods?

At this current point in time, the Commonwealth Government has banned all non-essential travel into communities. Finer detail is yet to be provided to the States. Further advice on this will be forthcoming.

 

 

o If members are able to leave, how will this occur if access to the communities has been suspended?

See above question.

 

 

13. What is the QPS position if I am unable to return to Australia?

The QPS understands that some members are having difficulty in returning to Australia. If a member is nearing the end of their period of approved leave, the member is asked to advise their OIC of their situation. Members do not need to apply for additional leave at this stage, but will be required to apply for the appropriate leave upon their return to the workplace.



Queensland Police Union COVID-19 Update - Leave Entitlements

As at 3:00 PM Wednesday 18 March 2020

The Commissioner of Police has approved Special Leave and Pandemic Leave in line with the Queensland Police Union’s original position.

These Leave provisions are as follows:

Where an employee is self-quarantining and is not sick

###ppaid Special Leave (emergent/compassionate) for the 14-day quarantine period where the employee is required to self-quarantine and the employee is not exhibiting symptoms or is not sick and cannot work flexibly from home. If the employee subsequently develops symptoms and becomes ill, the officer immediately ceases special leave and is required to access their own paid sick leave (use “pandemic” as reason for absence). Where their sick leave is exhausted, the officer can then accesses up to 20 days paid Pandemic Leave in accordance with ###a href="Ministerial" class="redactor-linkify-object">https://www.forgov.qld.gov.au/... Directive 01/20.

Work From Home

Members who have to self -isolate will still have the option to “Work From Home” (approved by their OIC). In this case members will not be required to use any leave.

All employees and line managers are able to initiate discussions about the ability for the employee to work from home or an alternate location during the COVID-19 pandemic. There is a new policy – “Flexible Working Arrangements (Alternative Workplaces) Policy” relating to working from home or an alternate location which remove normal requirements for WHS audits.

Where an employee is sick

###pMinisterial Directive 01/20.

Therefore, members who DO NOT contract the virus from work will (or have their claim rejected by Workcover)

·      Firstly use their personal sick leave;

·      Secondly use the “Pandemic Leave”;

·      Thirdly use the Sick Leave Bank.

Sick Leave Bank

We believe that the Sick Leave Bank is in a strong position to meet member needs. The current balance of the SLB is approx. 473,000 hours or approx. 3 years’ worth of contributions. The strict enforcement of SLB guidelines in the past has ensured that the SLB is in a very strong position to meet a crisis such as this. This is not to say that the need for additional leave contributions will not ultimately impact on the SLB, but we will make a decision about the need for extra-ordinary meetings or additional contributions to the SLB at that time.

Workcover

Members who believe that they have contracted the virus through work will apply for Workcover – we will refer members directly to Sciaccas Lawyers for assistance, at no cost to the member. If their claim is accepted, they will not have to use Sick Leave or Pandemic Leave – their absence will be covered by Workcover.

Where an employee needs to remain at home to care for an ill family or household member, or a child due to school/child care centre closures or self-quarantining

###pcarer’s leave debited from their own paid sick leave. Where their sick leave is exhausted, the employee then accesses up to 20 days paid pandemic leave in accordance with ###a href="Ministerial" class="redactor-linkify-object">https://www.forgov.qld.gov.au/... Directive 01/20.

Where required, such employees, in lieu of providing a medical certificate for the ill family or household member from a medical practitioner, can provide a copy of the test results where indicated as positive to COVID-19.

Employees who remain at home to care for a family or household member who had tested positive to COVID-19 may return to the workplace after producing a medical clearance for the ill family or household member and have followed Q Health guidelines.

Those employees who remain at home to care for a child who is self-quarantining and is not ill and does not test positive to COVID-19 may return to the workplace once test results are known. Alternatively, an employee, where the child is unable to return to school or child care due to closures, may enter into an agreed arrangement to work from home.

Removal of 7 Year Long Service Leave qualifying period

20 days Pandemic Leave is a one-off amount over the period of the COVID-19 pandemic. Once utilised, employees must access their own Annual Leave/Long Service Leave where sick leave if relevant is exhausted. The minimum continuous service period of seven years and minimum period of leave to be taken at any one time does not apply to any long service leave taken under these arrangements, as outlined in Ministerial Directive 01/20.

###pcovid19@qpu.asn.au

MICK BARNES

GENERAL SECRETARY

                                      

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update and FAQs

As at 4:00 PM Monday 16 March 2020

An Important Message from Queensland Police Union General Secretary Mick Barnes:

I know many of you are very frustrated by a lack of information available to support you regarding how the Queensland Police Service (QPS) should be responding to COVID-19.

Please be assured everyone at the Queensland Police Union is working hard to get the QPS to provide this.

In the interim – the content below may answer some of your questions.

Remember the QPS are refusing to give us all the answers we are seeking on your behalf despite our best efforts.

We will continue to speak out to support you and make sure decisions that are being made by the Commissioner of Police are fair and put your safety first and foremost.

We are aware that our interstate colleagues are facing similar issues and on that basis the Police Federation of Australia (PFA) conducted an emergency teleconference this morning with union Presidents from each jurisdiction, to address several critical member issues associated with COVID-19 (coronavirus).

Many members have experienced some frustration about the lack of communication from their employer in respect of ever-changing protocols and procedures associated with the virus.

The PFA will present all of the pertinent issues and requests to the commissioner of each jurisdiction.

The issues and requests include:

·       A temporary suspension of all non-essential policing activities. (This includes drug and alcohol testing and RBT units, which also pose a risk of contracting the virus - to both police officers and the public. WA, Victoria and NSW already have temporary restrictions on RBT and drug testing stations).

·       Leave arrangements and provisions in respect of possible self-isolation of members. (All Presidents agreed that this should be classified as special leave.)

·       Leave arrangements for members diagnosed with COVID-19.

·       Working-from-home provisions.

·       The provision and supply of personal protective equipment, and the amount of reserve stock available.

·       Cleaning and decontamination procedures, for members and their equipment.

·       Arrest protocols when coming into contact with members of the public, especially if they are known to be infected with the virus.

·       Priority testing for police officers and other emergency services workers with symptoms of COVID-19, or who have come into contact with it - depending on the medical advice.

·       Workers compensation arrangements for officers who might contract COVID-19.

·       The temporary suspension of mandatory training programs.

·       Risk-mitigation protocols.

·       The provision of a daily departmental briefing to members, in respect of the rapidly changing profile and severity of the pandemic, and how this might affect critical procedures.

·       Police protocols in respect of communities most vulnerable to adverse effects of COVID-19, such as the indigenous and the elderly.

We also intend to address what has been an incredibly slow (and in some cases, non-existent) official dialogue or response from police departments around the country.

The PFA, as well as the QPUE, will continue to keep members informed of the progress of the discussions with the respective police departments.

The lack of response and action from some departments so far has been unacceptable.

Members of the QPUE’s COVID19 Team will meet with the QPS at 8:30 am on 17/03/20. This website and our eNews will be updated accordingly.

In the meantime, it is important that you be cognisant with Queensland Health’s Alert and Fact Sheet.

MICK BARNES

GENERAL SECRETARY