Cairns Hospital withholds promised COVID leave payments from workers 

Electrical Trades Union members at Queensland Health have been left distressed and desperately worried after promised COVID leave payments were not received.

A handful of members at the Cairns and Hinterland Hospital accessed COVID leave after being affected by the virus, only to find their pay slips empty, with one member undergoing serious financial hardship in the wake of the pandemic.

“We have a member who has told me he doesn’t know how he’s going to feed his family tonight if he’s not paid what he’d owed today,” says Far North Organiser Rob Hill. “I followed this up with urgency, only to be met with silence from hospital staff.”

Hospital staff admitted to a processing lag back on 28 January, showing they knew of the risk that payments might be stalled. Mr Hill made it clear to key staff that the members needed to be paid yesterday, Tuesday 15 February, as a matter of urgency.

“This morning, they still had not been paid,” said Mr Hill. “It’s completely unacceptable for Cairns Hospital to run this way. Workers rely on their pay coming in when it’s promised, and our members have been promised money that haven’t received.

“There is a serious risk that some of our members might incur overdraft or late fees on bills or automatic transfers they’ve previously set up to coincide with their pay day. These are hard workers who just want to be paid what they are owed.”

Cairns Hospital workers, like many others, are entitled to special COVID leave as government employees, given the virus excludes them from going to work.

“Whether this was a clerical error or something more sinister, this mistake needs to be rectified today,” says Mr Hill. “It’s not much to ask that workers are paid leave they are entitled to and have been promised. That’s not much to expect from an employer, particularly one as big as Queensland Health.

“Cairns Hospital has been at the forefront of this pandemic, with Health officials directing staff that are affected by the pandemic not to attend work. The very real risk here is that workers will present for work going forward despite directives, simply because they cannot afford to go without their lawful pay entitlements. Frontline heroes are being put in a situation where they have to choose to feed their families or assist in keeping the virus under control and protecting their communities and that simply is not fair.” says Mr Hill.


For more information, please call Rob Hill on 0430 072 049 or Kristin Perissinotto on 0448 633 858.