Date: 23 May 2022
Court/Tribunal: Queensland Industrial Relations Commission
Judicial Officer/Tribunal Member: Merrell DP
Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld) Sections: s 13
Rights Considered: N/A
Other Legislation: Hospital and Health Boards Act 2011, s 51A; Industrial Relations Act 2016, ss 28, 562B, 562C
Keywords: Public Law Considerations; COVID-19 Directions

This case concerned an appeal following a disciplinary finding. The appellant received a disciplinary finding against him following refusal to comply with a lawful direction relating to COVID-19 vaccination. The appellant submitted that the requirement for a hospital health directive to receive two doses of the COVID-19 vaccination was an unjustified breach of their human rights under section 13 of the Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld).

The appellant is employed by Queensland Health as Director of Training - Psychiatry at Townsville Hospital. A hospital health directive required hospital employees to receive two doses of the COVID-19 doses unless they are granted an exemption: at [1] and [4]. The appellant objected to the vaccination requirement, claiming that it was an ‘unwarranted limitation of [his] human rights’: at [5]. He then stopped attending work, after which he was told by his employer to show cause as to why disciplinary action should not be made against him on the basis that he had not received his required vaccination doses and had not provided evidence of any exemption: at [11]. The appellant responded by referring to section 13 of the Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld), arguing that it required directives to use the least restrictive means to achieve its goal: at [12] and [27]. He was required to work at home under a flexible work arrangement, with the initial disciplinary decision holding that the Directive ‘was reasonable and justified by the need to ensure compliance with the Directive’ and that there was no less restrictive means, other than vaccination, ‘which would sufficiently ensure the safety of [the appellant], other staff members and patients, as well as ensuring the ongoing readiness of the health system to respond to the pandemic’: at [16].

The issue for determination in the appeal was whether the decision appealed against was fair and reasonable. The Commission held that as the appellant’s position required face-to-face contact with trainees, there was no less restrictive means to achieve the objective of the Directive: at [55]. The initial decision was, therefore, considered to be fair and reasonable and the rights were justifiably limited in the circumstances: at [59].

Visit the judgment: Amos v State of Queensland (Queensland Health) [2022] QIRC 197