Understanding the role your private (company) policy plays in conjunction with public (legal) policy.

As restrictions ease and Queenslanders begin to return to normal, it is easy to forget we are still fighting a formidable foe. In the current situation we are seeing a lot of public policy (health directives and statute) being imposed on business activity through means of private (company) policy. The line can be confusing and at times frustrating for both staff and customers. Here is your simple guide to understanding the difference and how your business can use internal policy to enforce public policy.

What is the difference between public and private policy?

It is important to understand the difference between the public and private sector in order to understand the difference in policy. The public sector is composed of organizations which are owned and operated by government, this can include government agencies like federal and state offices. The private sector is comprised of organizations which are ‘private’, meaning that they are not owned by, nor part of, the government. When the government hands down a directive or amends the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act 2020, the private sector responds by implementing their own internal company policy. Such policy is governed by multitude of legislation which ultimately empowers the private sector with certain rights. 

Can i stop someone from entering my premises if they show flu-like symptoms?

Yes. This is a perfect example of how a public policy, such as the directive to refuse service to customers exhibiting flu-like symptoms, can be translated into an internal policy stating customers will be refused service as per the public policy. Businesses have the right to refuse service and insist that anyone with symptoms leaves the premises, this right exhisted prior to COVID-19 and was governed under relevent legislation.

Is a directive a public policy or optional?

Health service directives (HSDs) are documents issued by the Department of Health’s Chief Executive to Hospital and Health Services. During a public health emergency, which was declared on the 18th of May 2020, the Chief Health Officer can issue Public Health Directions to assist in containing, or to respond to, the spread of COVID-19 within the community. This does mean that as the directives are authorised under the Public Health Act 2005 (a public policy) you are required to implement directives into private policy and practice. 

Where can I leanr more about this and my businesses rights during covid-19?

Contact the board here.

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