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    9.1 Indemnities and Legal Assistance

    Queensland Government employees have automatic legal protection from being civilly sued when acting in their official capacity. Broad legislative immunities are provided under the Public Service Act 2008 and the Police Service Administration Act 1990, protecting public servants and police officers from being sued for their actions when they act on behalf of the state. Employees are still accountable for their actions—the government can recover funds from employees where they have not acted in good faith and have been grossly negligent.

    The Queensland Government Indemnity Guideline1 (the Guideline) commenced operation on 31 March 2014. The Guideline consolidates two previous guidelines, being the Guideline for the Grant of Indemnities and Legal Assistance to State Employees and the Indemnity for Queensland Health Employees and Other Persons HR Policy I3.

    The Guideline applies to the broad public service as well as health service employees, and sets out how employees can receive indemnities and legal assistance. Queensland police, medical practitioners and judicial officers are covered by their own guidelines.

    Under the Guideline, public servants do not need to apply for an indemnity or legal assistance for civil matters, or for inquiries and investigations—assistance is provided automatically, subject to an employee signing an undertaking. A template undertaking is attached to the Guideline to assist departments with this process. Approval from the Director-General of the Department of the Premier and Cabinet is required before an employee is granted an indemnity or legal assistance for a criminal charge.

    The Guideline does not apply to internal departmental investigations, where the state has commenced proceedings against an employee or where the employee is initiating a legal proceeding.

    Departments have the ability to withdraw assistance if employees do not cooperate with the state during their matter. Departments can also seek financial reimbursement from employees if the employee is found to have not acted in good faith and without gross negligence in the course of their duties. Departments should seek legal advice before making such decisions.

    Departments must record certain information when granting indemnities and legal assistance to their employees. This includes the number of matters where immunity and/or indemnity has been provided, the type of each matter, the costs of each matter, the number of recovery proceedings (and amounts recovered) under section 26C of the Public Service Act 2008 and the number of indemnities refused by the department (if any). Departments will be required to provide six-monthly reports of this information to the Commission Chief Executive of the Public Service Commission.

    For further information please refer to the Guideline or seek legal advice.

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    Last updated:
    12 February, 2018
    Last reviewed:
    12 February, 2018