Bargaining Policy 2015

Last updated: 02 Nov 2015

This page is: current

cuts through red tape image Introduction

  1. This policy provides a framework for agencies to implement terms and conditions of employment that are affordable and support modern and agile public sector workplaces.
  2. The policy applies to Australian Public Service (APS), non-APS Australian Government entities, including Members of Parliament Staff and Government Business Enterprises. It supersedes the Australian Government Public Sector Workplace Bargaining Policy 2014.
  3. The policy does not apply to the Australian Defence Force.
  4. In this policy, the term workplace arrangement includes enterprise agreements, common law agreements or determinations, including Public Service Act determinations or workplace determinations made under relevant employing legislation.
  5. Terms and conditions of employment for APS non-Senior Executive Service employees are generally set through enterprise agreements at the agency level.
  6. Agencies and the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) will work together to develop workplace arrangements that are consistent with this policy.
  7. Agencies are responsible for ensuring that workplace arrangements are consistent with this policy.

Approval Requirements

  1. The APS Commissioner must approve any proposed increases in remuneration prior to those increases being put forward to staff. Details on remuneration approvals are outlined below.
  2. A draft enterprise agreement, or other collective workplace arrangement, is to be provided to the Commissioner for approval prior to tabling a final position to staff.
  3. Where the Commissioner considers that a proposed workplace arrangement is inconsistent with Government policy or there are unresolved policy issues, the matter will be referred to the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service and the portfolio Minister for consideration.
  4. Exemptions to any provisions of the policy will only be approved by Ministers in exceptional circumstances.


  1. Remuneration increases may be negotiated up to an average of 2% per annum.
  2. Remuneration increases include all increases to payments made to employees, other than changes to expense-related allowances as outlined in paragraph 15. This does not include existing salary point progression or performance pay arrangements if those arrangements remain unchanged.
  3. Existing pay scales are not be modified to provide for new top pay points, removal of existing pay points, or other mechanisms to accelerate salary advancement.
  4. Existing salary-related allowances may be increased in line with general wage increases. Existing expense-related allowances may be increased in line with relevant economic indicators or statistical measures.
  5. Remuneration increases must be offset by productivity improvements. Productivity improvements can be achieved by ensuring that new workplace arrangements do not contain clauses that restrict an agency's ability to operate efficiently and effectively.
  6. Agencies should continue to implement other productivity improvements to support more efficient operations, either within or outside of the workplace arrangement.
  7. Remuneration increases are to be affordable and funded from within existing agency budgets, without the redirection of programme funding.
  8. Remuneration increases are not to be funded through reductions in output or services, or increases in fees, charges, levies, or similar income sources.
  9. The amount and timing of remuneration increases may vary across the life of a workplace arrangement, provided that there is a reasonable spread of increases. Factors to be considered include: affordability, timing, and any potential flow on impact to other agencies.
  10. Existing and ongoing payments may be restructured into a consolidated base salary rate without being regarded as a remuneration increase, where:
    1. the restructuring will only apply to employees who receive, or were eligible to receive, the ceasing payment;
    2. there is no net gain to individual employees; and
    3. the outcome is at least cost neutral for the agency.
  11. For example, an employee earning a $60,000 base salary and a $200 non-superannuable professional allowance may have these amounts restructured as a $60,169 base salary after a 15.4% discount for the superannuation payment on the rolled-in allowance is applied.
  12. Remuneration increases are to apply prospectively.
  13. Sign-on bonuses are not to be negotiated.
  14. An employee is not to advance through a classification or broadband pay scale if they have not achieved at least a satisfactory level of performance.
  15. Agency Heads will provide the APS Commissioner (the Commissioner) with a signed Remuneration and Funding Declaration for approval. This will outline the proposed increases, associated costs and certify affordability.
  16. Agencies must obtain approval from the Commissioner using the template at Attachment A.
  17. Remuneration increases for Senior Executive Service and equivalent employees covered by individual arrangements are to be consistent with this policy. The approval of the Commissioner is not required.

All Workplace Arrangements

  1. Agreements are not to impose restrictive work practices or other arrangements that confine the operations of the agency, or in the case of the APS, the Service as a whole, or curb the effective operation of legislation.
  2. Workplace arrangements should be simple, clear and easy to read.
  3. The right for an employee to choose to belong or not to belong to a union will be respected.
  4. Consultation and workplace relations arrangements in agencies are to be balanced and not unreasonably favour one group of employees over another. Agencies may make provision for consultative structures with employees, and where employees choose, their representatives, regarding employment relations matters.
  5. Employees who are not members of a union may not wish to engage with, or receive communications from, a union. Agencies are to ensure that communication arrangements within the agency respect this.
  6. Right of entry is dealt with in the Fair Work Act 2009 and these provisions must not be enhanced.
  7. Where workplace arrangements contain detail about performance management, they will support improved productivity and high performance, and will not contain restrictive processes and procedural requirements.

Enterprise Agreements

  1. Enterprise agreements should only contain clauses that are required by legislation to support the effective operation of the agreement and provide entitlements to employees.
  2. Enterprise agreements are to be of at least three years' duration.
  3. An APS agency's individual flexibility term is an accepted mechanism for providing to individual employees alternative terms and conditions to those available through an enterprise agreement.
  4. All enterprise agreements must contain an individual flexibility term. Individual flexibility terms must allow for flexibility, at a minimum, in respect of the matters listed in the model term in the Fair Work Regulations. Flexibility terms are to provide a wide scope to vary the terms of the agreement, including remuneration.
  5. Proposed enterprise agreements will include the model dispute resolution term, or equivalent, prescribed by the Fair Work Regulations, without additional restrictive arrangements.
  6. Proposed enterprise agreements will include the model consultation term, or equivalent, without any additional arrangements that would unduly restrict managerial decision-making and the operations of the agency.

APS Classification Structures

  1. Classification structures in APS enterprise agreements and other industrial instruments are to be consistent with the Classification Rules issued under the Public Service Act 1999.
  2. Training Classifications should specify remuneration levels, even if they are not routinely used. This will allow agencies to engage employees at these classifications during the life of the agreement.
  3. Advancement through a broadband will occur where:
    1. an employee's performance is satisfactory; and
    2. there is sufficient work available at the higher classification level; and
    3. the employee has the necessary skills and proficiencies to perform that work.

Conditions of Employment

  1. APS and Commonwealth employment conditions generally meet or exceed community standards. An enhancement of existing conditions would only be contemplated in exceptional circumstances. Ministerial approval of any enhancement would be required.
  2. Arrangements will not allow the cashing out of personal/carers' leave.
  3. To ensure that entitlements are used in a manner consistent with the intent of the legislation, long service leave is only granted in blocks of at least seven calendar days at full pay, or at least 14 calendar days at half pay, per occasion. It is not to be broken by other forms of leave unless required by legislation.
  4. APS agencies and the parliamentary departments will ensure the portability of accrued paid leave entitlements. This is to occur where employees move between APS agencies, the Parliamentary Service and the Australian Capital Territory Public Service, providing there is no break in service.
  5. APS Agencies considering the transfer of leave entitlements and/or the recognition of prior service with other bodies such as non-APS authorities or State Government agencies, other than for long service leave purposes, should consult with the Department of Finance.
  6. Workplace arrangements should incorporate leave provisions that support the release of community service volunteers for emergency services duties and Defence Reservists for peacetime training and development.
  7. The Defence Reserves Support Council recommends a Defence reserve leave policy for Australian Government employers. This is available from the Defence Reserves Support Council website.

Redeployment, Reduction and Retention

  1. APS agency workplace arrangements are to include compulsory redeployment, reduction and retrenchment arrangements for employees identified as excess to requirements.
  2. A proposed workplace arrangement will not enhance existing redundancy entitlements.
  3. Redundancy payments are to be consistent with, but not exceed, the NES entitlements for employees with two to three, and three to four years' service.
  4. To avoid double-dipping on redundancy entitlements, workplace arrangements should include a mechanism that will reduce a retention period by the equivalent number of weeks that an eligible employee would be entitled to under the NES.
  5. SES workplace arrangements are not to include provisions which provide a redundancy benefit or similar type of payment to persons whose employment is terminated involuntarily under section 29 of the Public Service Act. SES workplace arrangements will not include retention period arrangements for excess SES employees.

Partnership with the Australian Public Service Commission

  1. The APSC provides support and advice to agencies on the Australian Government's employment and workplace relations policies.
  2. To assist the APSC in providing advice on bargaining across the Commonwealth public sector, agencies are requested to:
    1. advise the APSC about any significant employment relations matters, for example matters in the Fair Work Commission or industrial disputes; and
    2. provide data to the APSC as requested to assist with reporting requirements.

Legal Advice

  1. The Legal Services Directions require the agency responsible for certain legislation to be consulted on any request for legal advice and be given a copy of any legal advice about that legislation. The Department of Employment has responsibility for the Fair Work Act 2009.
  2. The APSC has responsibility for the Public Service Act 1999, Long Service Leave (Commonwealth Employees) Act 1976 and Maternity Leave (Commonwealth Employees) Act 1973. The APSC requests that copies of legal advice on the Fair Work Act in the context of public sector employment also be provided. Contact details are:

Chief Counsel
Department of Employment
GPO Box 9880

Legal Adviser
Australian Public Service Commission
16 Furzer Street

Interpretations and Definitions

Interpretations Definitions


Any Australian Government entity (APS and non-APS), including Members of Parliament Staff, excluding the Australian Defence Force.

Agency Minister

The relevant agency's Minister.


Australian Public Service.

APS agency

An agency that employs employees under the Public Service Act 1999.


Australian Public Service Commission.


A grouping of duties across numerous classifications.

Classification Rules

Public Service Classification Rules 2000, made under subsection 23(1) of the Public Service Act 1999.


Australian Public Service Commissioner.

Commissioner's Directions

Australian Public Service Commissioner's Directions 2013.

Enterprise Agreement

An agreement made under Part 2-4 of the Fair Work Act 2009.

Fair Work Act

Fair Work Act 2009.

Fair Work Regulations

Fair Work Regulations 2009.


Long Service Leave (Commonwealth Employees) Act 1976.

Maternity Leave Act

Maternity Leave (Commonwealth Employees) Act 1973.


National Employment Standards in the Fair Work Act 2009.

Non-APS agency

A Commonwealth entity as defined in the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 that does not employ employees under the Public Service Act.

Public Service Act

Public Service Act 1999.

Public Service Minister

The Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service.


Senior Executive Service.


The Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service and the relevant agency Minister.

Workplace arrangement

A common law agreement, enterprise agreement or a determination, including Public Service Act determinations or workplace determinations made under relevant employing legislation.

Attachment A

Remuneration and Funding Declaration

Attachment A is a template for certification by the Agency Head that proposed remuneration increases and associated costs are affordable and that there are sufficient productivity improvements to offset the proposed increases.