Circular 2011/1: Introduction of the Australian Public Service Bargaining Framework

Last updated: 25 Mar 2014

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The purpose of this Circular is to inform Australian Public Service (APS) agencies of the introduction of the APS Bargaining Framework which takes effect as of 31 January 2011.

APS Bargaining Framework

  1. Following the Government’s acceptance of the recommendations contained in Ahead of the Game: Blueprint for the Reform of Australian Government Administration (The Blueprint), the Australian Government Employment Bargaining Framework (AGEBF) and the associated Supporting Guidance have been enhanced to better support the concept of one APS and facilitate mobility across the APS by achieving greater commonality of terms and conditions. As part of this enhancement, the AGEBF has been separated into APS and non-APS editions.
  2. The January 2011 edition of the APS Bargaining Framework and Supporting Guidance replaces the September 2009 edition of the Supporting Guidance to the Australian Government Employment Bargaining Framework in relation to APS employees.
  3. A copy of the APS Bargaining Framework and Supporting Guidance has been provided with this Circular.

Application

  1. APS agencies are to apply the APS Bargaining Framework in regard to employees engaged under the Public Service Act 1999.
  2. The APS Bargaining Framework does not apply to non-APS Commonwealth Authorities and other Australian Government employers, including Members of Parliament Staff, the Australian Defence Force or Government Business Enterprises.
  3. The September 2009 edition of the Bargaining Framework and Supporting Guidance continues to apply to those non-APS Commonwealth Authorities applying this policy. A consultation process will commence in the near future on a separate non-APS Bargaining Framework and Supporting Guidance.

Key changes

  1. The key changes introduced in the APS Bargaining Framework include:
    • A greater focus on supporting the concept of one APS as recommended in the Blueprint by seeking to minimise divergence across the APS;
    • The introduction of non-binding recommendations for common APS terms and conditions for agencies to work towards achieving through bargaining (Part 1.8);
    • Guidance around appropriate agency salary increases including a recommended Nominal Expiry Date (NED) to NED Average Annualised Wage Increase (AAWI) of 3%, and AAWI greater than 3% for the bottom 5th percentile of the APS if affordable by agencies (Part 2.1);
    • A new requirement that all non-SES employees to be covered in one enterprise agreement except in exceptional circumstances approved by the Prime Minister and the Special Minister of State for the Public Service and Integrity (SMOS) (Clause 1.2.2);
    • A recommended common nominal expiry date for all APS enterprise agreements of 30 June 2014 subject to good faith bargaining (Clause 1.3.23);
    • Recommendations to agencies regarding facilities for unions and bargaining representatives when negotiating agreements (Attachments B and C); and
    • New requirements for APS agencies to provide agreement-making data (including base salary and performance pay) to the APSC from time to time (Clause 1.10.2).

Non-binding recommended terms and conditions and suggested model clauses

  1. To facilitate greater consistency in terms and conditions across the APS, from time to time the APSC will circulate recommended terms and conditions and/or suggested model clauses which agencies may seek to include in enterprise agreements and other instruments through good faith bargaining.
  2. Failure to achieve all of the recommended terms and conditions, or incorporate suggested model clauses, through a good faith bargaining process shall not be cause to determine that a proposed agreement cannot proceed or is inconsistent with the APS Bargaining Framework.

APS wage outcomes

  1. Without seeking to limit the capacity of agencies to bargain in good faith, the APSC recommends that salary increases in APS workplace arrangements not exceed 3 per cent on a nominal expiry date (NED) to NED basis. Clause 2.1.5 and Table 1 of the Supporting Guidance provide further information about how a NED to NED Average Annualised Wage Index (AAWI) is calculated.
  2. Where agencies have employees who would be paid below the 5th percentile of APS salaries for their classification upon commencement of a new enterprise agreement or other workplace arrangement (as advised by the APSC), agencies may provide a higher wage increase for those employees, subject to affordability. Any such measures will not be counted towards that agency’s NED to NED AAWI.

Approval process

  1. As with the September 2009 edition of the Supporting Guidance, Agencies are to seek the approval of a proposed:
    • bargaining position prior to issuing a notice of employee representational rights in accordance with the Fair Work Act 2009; and
    • enterprise agreement prior to undertaking the staff vote.
  2. Approvals may be sought either directly from the APSC or via formal correspondence between an Agency Minister and the SMOS. Agencies should consult with their Minister on this aspect of the approval process before proceeding.
    • Where an agency’s proposed bargaining position is in line with recommended terms and conditions, the APSC may certify on behalf of the SMOS that the proposed bargaining position is consistent with the APS Bargaining Framework;
    • Where an agency’s proposed bargaining position is not in line with recommended terms and conditions, the APSC will request direct approval from the SMOS as required on behalf of the agency;
    • Following bargaining, where the content of a proposed enterprise agreement has not deviated from the approved bargaining position (and the proposed agreement is otherwise consistent with the APS Bargaining Framework), the APSC may certify on behalf of the SMOS that the proposed enterprise agreement is consistent with the APS Bargaining Framework;
    • Where the content of a proposed enterprise agreement has deviated from the approved bargaining position, and/or the proposed agreement is otherwise inconsistent with the APS Bargaining Framework, the APSC will request direct approval from the SMOS as required on behalf of the agency.

Further advice and information

  1. Should you require further information or assistance on this matter, please contact your APSC Client Contact directly, visit the APSC website at www.apsc.gov.au or email workplacebargaining@apsc.gov.au .

Helen Bull
Group Manager
Workplace Relations Group

3 February 2011