Stop the Qld Police Commissioner's power to suspend officers without pay!
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There are two powers afforded to the Commissioner of the Queensland Police Service under the provisions of the Police Service Administration Act 1990 that need to be removed;
- The power to suspend officers WITHOUT PAY; and
- The power to withhold from back-pay, an amount equal to any income earned through alternative employment during the suspension, once the suspension is lifted.
Suspension without pay means that the officer's only source of income is ceased entirely, leaving them unable to meet basic living expenses or mortgage/loan repayments. This drastic and inhumane course of action leaves the officer exposed to potential bankruptcy and losing all their assets, even before they have been found guilty of any offence. By the time the internal investigation and/or court process is finalised - the officer could well have lost everything. This can lead to depression, relationship breakdowns and suicide.
Regardless of what an officer is accused of, if they are still employed they should still be paid - especially when internal investigations and court processes can drag on for years. If found guilty, officers already face criminal convictions, fines, and/or imprisonment, as well as internal disciplinary charges and subsequent dismissal. In the interim, there can be no justifiable reason for withholding the salary of a person who is still employed, especially given the consequences such action has.
These officers can not receive Centrelink payments because they are still employed. Most find it near impossible to find secondary employment during a suspension, due to the stigma and pre-judgement that being suspended attracts.
Even if an officer is able to find approved secondary employment during the suspension, the Commissioner has the power to later withhold any back-pay equal to the amount earned during the suspension period.
For example, an officer ordinarily paid $70k per annum is suspended without pay for 3 years. They find a job stacking shelves in a supermarket and earn $30k per year. Once a suspension is lifted, and when they are back-paid by the Qld Police Service, they are only entitled to be back-paid $40k per year from the QPS ($70k minus the $30k earned whilst suspended). This essentially means that by ceasing a member's income and forcing them into secondary employment during the period of suspension (if they are lucky enough to find such employment), the Commissioner saves himself a significant amount of wages that should be back-paid to the officer.
All officers, whether suspended or not, are entitled to apply to the Commissioner for approval of secondary employment. Officers who have not been suspended obviously get to keep all earnings from their secondary employment in addition to their QPS wage. Why then, should an officer cleared of any wrongdoing have the amount of their secondary earnings subtracted from any back-pay that they are entitled to from the QPS, or even have had their salary ceased in the first place?
These powers are simply inhumane, unreasonable, unjustifiable, and surely must be a breach of the Commissioner's duty of care.
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