Home » No jab, no job? Employers beware.
Written by: David Rule & Carmen Sauvage

In early 2024, employees of the Queensland Police Service and the Queensland Ambulance Service challenged their respective employers COVID-19 directions. These employees were successful in their actions and the directions made by their employers mandating COVID-19 vaccinations were found to be unlawful and invalid, as discussed below.

This case is likely to bring about a number of similar matters by employees who have been subject to similar directions.

Johnston & Ors v Carroll (Commissioner of the Queensland Police Service) & Anor; Witthahn & Ors v Wakefield (Chief Executive of Hospital and Health Services and Director General of Queensland Health); Sutton & Ors v Carroll (Commissioner of the Queensland Police Service) [2024] QSC 2

From late 2021 to early 2022 the Commissioner of Police and the Director-General of the Department of Health issued directions to staff, which mandated employees to have received all relevant vaccines pertaining to COVID-19. These directions were challenged based on the Judicial Review Act and the Human Rights Act by employees of the Queensland Police Service and the Queensland Ambulance Service.


Queensland Police Service

It was found that the Commissioner of Police did not consider section 58 of the Human Rights Act 2019 when issuing her direction for Queensland Police Service staff to be vaccinated. Her direction was therefore deemed unlawful. It is important to note that the Court did not go as far as to determine that the vaccine requirement in and of itself was unlawful, only that the Commissioner did not follow the appropriate consideration procedure when imposing the mandate. This is a key distinction as it may not invalidate other mandates where the requisite procedure was followed.


Queensland Ambulance Service

In making his decision to issue a direction to Queensland Ambulance Service staff, the Director- General of the Department of Health argued that he had done so as he had the power due to an implied term stipulated in Queensland Ambulance Service employment agreements. The Director- General failed to successfully argue this point and as such his direction was deemed invalid.

Additionally, the Supreme Court of Queensland “also found that:

  • although each of the directions limited the rights under s 17 of the Human Rights Act because each direction had the effect of requiring an employee to undergo medical treatment (a vaccination) without the employee’s full, free and informed consent,
  • the limit was reasonable in all the circumstances.”



How can we help?

If you believe you have been unfairly impacted by your workplaces COVID-19 vaccination direction contact one of our experienced solicitors here at Greenhalgh Pickard. Gain piece of mind that our solicitors can provide you with advice and guide you through the process to ensure you are fully informed on your prospects of success.

If you have questions regarding your employment rights, contact our Employment Law team today.

Ph: 07 5444 1022


The information contained in this article is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal advice or substitute for the advice of a professional. This information does not consider your personal circumstances and may not reflect the most current legal developments. Should you need advice, please contact our firm for targeted information relating to personal your situation.