The ballot paper that was sent to public servants including to some who are no longer employed.

The ballot paper that was sent to public servants including to some who are no longer employed.

Some public servants who lost their jobs in the Newman government's cost-cutting drive have now been sent ballot papers to vote on a pay rise for employees who remain.

Tens of thousands of still-employed public servants this week received ballot papers from the state government, which has offered employees covered by the “core” departmental agreement a 2.35 per cent annual salary increase.

But some former employees who left as part of the government's cuts to the public service have also received ballot papers and ready-made envelopes in which to return them.

While there is apparently nothing stopping departed workers from participating, the government is urging them – on trust – not to return the anonymous ballot papers.

The government's letter to recipients says people who are no longer employed “should discard the ballot paper and not participate in the ballot”.

“You may only vote in the ballot if you are a current employee,” the message says in capital letters.

Alex Scott, from the public sector union Together Queensland, said people who had recently left the public service were entitled to back pay if the government's offer was accepted.

He said the actual ballot paper was a simple yes or no question and the secret nature of the vote meant there was no way of the government knowing if the responses included those from former employees.

Fairfax Media has spoken with a former Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services contract worker who finished up at the end of June but still received the ballot in the mail.

The Public Service Commission confirmed it was “aware that people who are no longer public service employees have received ballot papers to vote on the proposed State Government Departments Certified Agreement 2012”.

“The PSC made every effort to ensure that people who were no longer public service employees would not receive a ballot paper,” the PSC said in a written response to questions.

“However, the PSC was aware that this could occur. Data [relating to] about 55,000 people needed to be compiled from a range of sources and it's understandable that some employees would have ceased employment between the compiling of the data and the posting of the ballot papers.”

Asked whether there was any way to know whether ballot papers coming back were from current employees or not, the PSC pointed to the instructions to former employees to discard their ballot papers. The organisation said it “encouraged” people to comply.

Mr Scott said the number of former employees who received voting papers would likely number in the hundreds, not thousands.

Information on the PSC website says employees will get back pay if they have taken a voluntary redundancy or resigned on or after September 1 and before the agreement was certified.

Voluntary redundancy payments and other such payments would also be recalculated.

“They [the government] made a very clear choice to try to target people who've lost their jobs because in their view they've got nothing left to lose because they've already lost their job,” Mr Scott said.

In response, the PSC said it was required to explain the terms of the agreement and participants at information sessions had been asking about their back pay entitlements if the offer was accepted.

The Together union is urging public servants to reject the 2.35 per cent annual pay offer because the proposed three-year pay deal does not include job security and contracting-out protections.

The union is currently fighting a legal challenge against the Newman government's law stripping away job protection guarantees in existing public sector enterprise agreements.

Mr Scott argued acceptance of the pay offer meant job protections would not be restored for those covered by the deal even if the union court challenge was successful.