Unattachment from Position

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Implementation Date





Unattachment from position is the process by which a permanent employee gives up their substantive position, while maintaining permanent employee status, if vacating their position for an extended period of time for reasons including secondment and special leave without pay. 

An unattachment request can be approved for other reasons where operational needs indicate this to be an acceptable course of action.

This procedure provides a framework for the management of permanent employees seeking to be unattached or employees approved to be unattached from their substantive position.


​Unattachment from positions within the Department of Education, Training and Employment is to be managed according to the Queensland Government Employment Security Policy and relevant industrial instruments.

Unattachment from position does not affect or diminish an employee’s permanent status.

  • Employees requesting to vacate their substantive position definitions for a period greater than 12 months may be requested to be unattached from their substantive position in order to ensure service continuity in their work area
  • An unattachment for reasons of absence from a position will only be considered once the employee has been absent from their position for a minimum of 12 months.

Approval will not be given for an employee to be unattached from their substantive position in circumstances of family leave or sick leave.

If an employee seeks exemption from this procedure, consideration may be given to potential benefits the employee may, on return to duty, provide the work unit and their substantive position. In the event that agreement cannot be reached and the employee declines to be unattached from their position, the delegate (Manager/Principal/ Regional Director) reserves the right to limit the period of time the employee may be absent from their substantive position to 12 months.

The period for which the unattachment may be considered is the total period of absence. For example, if an employee undertakes a secondment for nine months and then applies for special leave without pay for six months, the position has been vacated for a total of 15 months and therefore the employee may be requested to agree to be unattached from their position.

A cooling off period of 14 days, from the time of lodging the written agreement with the Manager/Principal/Regional Director is to be provided to employees agreeing to unattach from their position. The request should remain with the Manager/Principal/ Regional Director during the cooling off period.

Employees (except School Leaders and Heads of Program) may seek resolution in accordance with State Government Departments Certified Agreement 2009 Part 15, Prevention and Settlement of Disputes if they have an honest belief based on reasonable grounds that they have been treated in an unfair and/or unreasonable manner when negotiating unattachment from their position.

Upon approval of the unattachment, the employee’s substantive work unit is responsible for ensuring the reabsorption of the employee within their budgeted establishment upon the employee’s return to that work location.  Unattached employees are not given priority status for vacancies outside their current Division/Institute/Region.



  • is aware of and follows the designated process for unattachment as detailed in this procedure .

Manager/Principal/Regional Director:

  • manages each employee’s application to unattach  in accordance with the process detailed in this procedure, including discussing other available options with the employee.

Regional Director/Branch Director and Assistant Director-General Human Resources:

  • follows the approval process detailed in this procedure.

Workforce Recruitment and Employment, Payroll Services (Public Servants) and Regional Offices (School Leaders and Heads of Program):

  • processes approved applications in accordance with this procedure.



Public Servant

School Leaders and Heads of Program

Manager/Principal/Regional Director:

  • approves that the permanent employee vacate their substantive position for a period greater than 12 months
  • discusses with the employee the request to be unattached from their position and associated implications (if a school based position, unless specifically requested, will be unattached to the Region)
  • discusses with and seeks endorsement from the appropriate Branch Director/Regional Director for the employee to be unattached
  • endorses Unattachment from position form (DETE Employees only) after the 14 day cooling off period.

Regional Director/Branch Director:

  • endorses Unattachment from position form
  • forwards Unattachment from position form to Director, Workforce Recruitment and Employment to obtain approval from the authorised HR delegate
  • ensures, on cessation of employee's absence, the employee is placed and provided with suitable duties within the branch to which they were last permanently appointed, until the employee is permanently placed against a budgeted position within establishment (ie.not held as overnumber employee in the work unit).

Assistant Director-General, Human Resources:

  • provides final approval for the employee to be unattached
  • forwards the approved Unattachment from position form to Workforce Recruitment and Employment, Human Resources Services Branch.

Workforce Recruitment and Employment, Human Resources Services Branch:

Public Servants

  • provides written advice of approval to employee and relevant regional office/branch for information
  • provides schedule to Payroll Services Unit to ensure the unattachment is reflected on the department’s payroll system.
  • enters the employee’s transfer at level details where they have also submitted a request to be transferred to another work unit/geographic location on resumption of duty.

School Leaders and Heads of Program

  • provides schedule to relevant regional office to ensure the unattachment is reflected appropriately in the department’s payroll system.

Payroll Services, Human Resources Services Branch (Public Servants):

  • enters the employee’s unattachment record onto the department’s payroll system.

Online Resources

Review Date

Attribution CC BY
School Leaders and Heads of Program 
For the purpose of this procedure, the term ‘School Leaders and Heads of Program’ refers to an employee whose substantive position is remunerated under the Teachers’ Award - State 2003 above Stream 1.

Substantive position
An employee's permanent position, classification level and geographic location.

The process through which a permanent employee foregoes their substantive position while retaining their permanent employee status at the same classification level.