Date: 31 March 2022
Court/Tribunal: Queensland Industrial Relations Commission
Judicial Officer/Tribunal Member: Hartigan IC
Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld) Sections: 15, 17, 20, 24
Rights Considered: N/A
Other Legislation: Hospital and Health Boards Act 2011 (Qld) s 51A; Industrial Relations Act 2016 (Qld) ss 562B, 562C, 566; Public Service Act 2008 (Qld) ss 187, 194; Health Employment Directive No 12/21 – Employee COVID-19 vaccination requirements cls, 1, 6, 7, 8, 10; Individual employee grievances (Directive 11/20) cl 9.
Keywords: Education, Training and Employment; Political Freedoms: Freedom of religion, thought, conscience, and belief; Public Law Considerations: COVID-19 Directions

This case concerned an appeal of a Queensland Health decision that denied the appellant an exemption from compliance with an employment vaccination directive on the basis of her religious beliefs as a Seventh Day Adventist (‘the decision’). The Commission was required to conduct a review of the decision to determine whether it was fair and reasonable.

The Commission noted the reasons for the decision acknowledged the impact of the decision on the appellant’s human rights including the right to recognition and equality before the law (section 15 of the Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld)), the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief (section 20 of the Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld)), property rights (section 24 of the Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld)) and the right to protection from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment (including not to be subjected to medical or scientific experimentation or treatment without the person’s full, free and informed consent) (section 17 of the Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld)). The respondent was satisfied those limits on human rights were justified by the need to ensure the readiness of the health system in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, and to protect the lives of employees, patients and the community they serve.

On review of the decision, the Commission considered the decision failed to meaningfully consider the appellant’s religious beliefs and was therefore not fair and reasonable: at [34]-[37]. The Commission set aside the decision and directed a fresh internal review by a different decision maker of the respondent.

Visit the judgment: Amaya v State of Queensland (Queensland Health) [2022] QIRC 117