About bargaining in the Commonwealth public sector
The Australian Government is committed to fair and equitable conditions of employment and job security. The Commonwealth will act as a model employer, including through genuine bargaining to improve pay and conditions.
For the Australian Public Service (APS), the Government considers service-wide bargaining for common terms is an important part of delivering these commitments. These are the first steps to address pay fragmentation across APS agencies.
View the below video to understand the APS bargaining process.
Public Sector Workplace Relations Policy 2023
The Government has released a comprehensive approach to workplace relations in the Commonwealth – the Public Sector Workplace Relations Policy 2023 (the Policy)- external site- external site. The Australian Public Service Commission (the Commission) consulted with agencies and unions to develop the Principles for service-wide bargaining which frame how the Policy is intended to guide APS-wide bargaining.
The Policy is different to previous APS policies. It seeks to facilitate genuine service-wide bargaining, rather than providing a policy position on particular terms or conditions.
Commonwealth’s pay offer 2023
On Thursday 23 November 2023 the Commonwealth informed employee bargaining representatives it will improve the Commonwealth’s pay offer by bringing forward the Year 1 pay increase of 4 per cent by 12 weeks to 21 December 2023.
Due to the expected timing of when you’ll vote on your enterprise agreement, you could get this benefit in the form of a one-off payment.
This means you could get a one-off payment to cover the 12 week period back to 21 December 2023
To get this, your agency will need to:
- finalise its agency’s enterprise agreement and give it to you for consideration by 14 March 2024
- a majority of staff who vote need to support an agency’s enterprise agreement.
The Commonwealth’s improved pay offer provides:
- pay increases of:
- 4.0 per cent from March 2024
- 3.8 per cent from March 2025
- 3.4 per cent from March 2026
- a one-off payment.
You could get a one-off payment shortly after the successful yes vote on your agency’s enterprise agreement. You won’t need to wait for your enterprise agreement to start after approval by the Fair Work Commission. Your 4 per cent increase in salary would apply from 14 March 2024.
The Commonwealth’s pay offer will still include:
- a realignment payment, if you were usually scheduled to get a pay increase before 14 March 2024
- base salary lifts for nearly 8,000 employees in over 80 agencies that moves towards greater commonality of pay scales across the APS
You’ll get to vote on the APS bargaining package of pay and conditions, and matters your agency is currently negotiating during agency-level bargaining soon.
Talk to your Human Resources or Workplace Relations Team in your agency on when you can expect to vote.
Work out what you could get using our indicative pay calculator.
Transitioning you to get your pay increase
The Australian Public Service Commission has considered 2 options:
- if you are scheduled to get a pay increase before 1 March 2024.
- if you are scheduled to get a pay increase after 1 March 2024.
If you are scheduled to get a pay increase before March 2024
You’ll get a realignment payment. This will help you transition to the common pay increase date.
The realignment payment will compensate you for earnings you would have got between your scheduled pay increase date and the new common pay increase date.
You’ll get this payment close to your scheduled pay increase, and before you finalise your agency’s enterprise agreement.
Employees in about 50 agencies will get a realignment payment. Your Agency Lead Negotiator will tell you if you get this payment.
If you are scheduled to get a pay increase before March 2024, see an indication of your potential realignment payment here.
If you are scheduled to get a pay increase after March 2024
You could get your next pay increase earlier than expected.
More than 50 agencies will be able to bring forward their pay increase.
Commonwealth’s approach to reduce pay fragmentation
The Chief Negotiator also tabled the Commonwealth’s revised base salary structure at each APS classification from APS1 – EL2 to take initial steps to reduce pay fragmentation across the service.
To demonstrate the difference between salaries across each APS agency, the Australian Public Service Commission has published data on the minimum and maximum salary values for each classification at each APS agency, as they will be as at 31 August 2023.
The revised base salary structure reduces the current average fragmentation from 25 per cent to 13 per cent.
The approach still defines:
- a minimum base salary that agencies must meet or exceed. Employees whose salaries would be below the new minimum will get an additional pay rise to address this, in addition to the APS-wide proposed pay offer.
- a base maximum salary for each classification.
The revised base salary structure will lift salaries in 83 different agencies, impacting almost 8,000 employees over the life of the enterprise agreements, with the following breakdown:
- 35 agencies in 2024.
- 63 agencies in 2025.
- 83 agencies in 2026.
In addition to the steps to address pay fragmentation, the Commonwealth has proposed a pay offer of 11.2% over 3 years.
The proposed approach to address pay fragmentation will be applied first, and the Commonwealth’s pay increase will be added on top of any changes to salary structures.
Some employees will get significantly more than the 11.2% per cent pay increase over the life of the enterprise agreements. This is due to their base salary lift and pay increase. This supports your lowest paid colleagues which includes some of the agencies delivering critical services to First Nations people.
Work out if you could be impacted by the revised base salary here.
The Chief Negotiator tabled the suite of proposed parental leave changes. These changes uphold the APS as an employer of choice. They include:
- Primary caregivers can expect 18 weeks paid leave and the ability to take it at half pay. This is an increase for 94 agencies.
- 8 weeks paid parental leave from the start of the enterprise agreements for secondary caregivers. This will rise in increments to 18 weeks by 2026-27. This is an increase for all APS agencies.
- Paid premature birth leave will also be available from the date of birth to what would have been 37 weeks gestation. This is a new entitlement for all APS agencies.
- A secondary caregiver who has lost their child through stillbirth can access 2 weeks paid leave. This is a new entitlement for all APS agencies. A pregnant employee who experiences stillbirth retains access to full parental leave.
- Parents can access one week paid pregnancy loss leave if they lose a child from 12 to 19 weeks’ gestation. This is a new entitlement for all APS agencies.
- We have removed all qualifying periods for paid parental leave. This is a new entitlement for all APS agencies.
The improved parental leave entitlements take important steps to provide parents with more flexibility to suit their family’s needs through access to separate and equal paid leave across the APS.
The Chief Negotiator and employee representatives continue to work through the Statement of Common Conditions. This includes clauses that will be added to each APS enterprise agreement. In some cases, agencies will be asked to apply common principles to certain clauses.
The Australian Public Service Commission has released a summary of common conditions that the Chief Negotiator views has broad support to date.
What happens next?
The pay outcome and common conditions won’t come into effect until:
- You have the opportunity to vote on your agency’s enterprise agreement.
- Of employees who vote, more than 50 per cent vote yes.
- Following a positive vote, the Fair Work Commission will need to approve your agency’s enterprise agreement.
A range of conditions will also still need to be negotiated at the agency-level. These conditions are relevant to your agency’s operational needs.
You’ll get to vote on pay, common conditions and agency-level terms after agency-level bargaining is complete. Your agency will organise the vote on your agency’s enterprise agreement.
We expect most enterprise agreements will be finalised before March 2024.
Last updated 23 November 2023
- 6 October 2022: The Commission released the Public Sector Interim Workplace Arrangements 2022.
- 6 October 2022: The Commission asked agencies and public sector unions to provide feedback and comments on the draft Principles and Objectives (the Principles) for service-wide bargaining in the Commonwealth public sector.
- 21 October 2022: Submissions on the Principles were due to the Commission.
- 24 October 2022: The Taskforce was established in the Commission.
- 24 October 2022: Peter Riordan appointed Deputy Commissioner, Workplace Relations Bargaining Taskforce.
- 31 October 2022: Minister for the Public Service, Senator the Hon Katy Gallagher announced that service wide bargaining would be limited to APS agencies in 2023.
- 25 November 2022: Minister for Public Service, Senator the Hon Katy Gallagher endorsed the Principles guiding APS bargaining
- 28 March 2023: Release of the Australian Government's Public Sector Workplace Relations Policy 2023.
- 30 March 2023: First bargaining meetings with unions and Employee Bargaining Representatives commence.
- 31 March 2023: Release of the bargaining schedule to support APS-wide bargaining.
- 16 May 2023: Commonwealth's Pay Offer tabled to Unions and IBRs.
- 30 May 2023: Commonwealth's approach to pay fragmentation tabled with Unions and IBRs.
- 29 August 2023: Revised Commonwealth Pay Offer tabled to Unions and EBRs.
- 23 November 2023: Commonwealth announces the revised pay offer
The Commission has undertaken significant consultation with APS agencies and unions.
The Workplace Relations Bargaining Taskforce sought views from APS employees on what they’d like the taskforce to consider in the APS bargaining process through an APS-wide staff survey.
We have published consultation findings on a dedicated page. Please review the findings here.
Frequently Asked Questions
We have created a frequently asked questions page to answer all general questions relating to APS bargaining.
APS bargaining news
APS bargaining news is live
- Issue 1: Bargaining to commence before the end of March
- Issue 2: Formal bargaining to commence: Thursday 30 March
- Issue 3: Forward APS-wide bargaining schedule
- Issue 4: APS-wide bargaining update
- Issue 5: APS-wide bargaining update
- Issue 6: APS-wide bargaining: Flexible Work Proposal
- Issue 7: APS-wide bargaining update
- Issue 8: APS-wide bargaining update
- Issue 9: Commonwealth pay offer
- Issue 10: APS-wide bargaining update
- Issue 11: APS-wide bargaining update: Remote workers
- Issue 12: APS-wide bargaining update: Gender and Diversity, EL TOIL and overpayments
- Issue 13: APS-wide bargaining update: Working hours and employment types, Superannuation and allowances
- Issue 14: APS-wide bargaining update: Maternity Leave Act review and bargaining update
- Issue 15: APS-wide bargaining update: Progress on the Commonwealth's pay offer
- Issue 16: APS-wide bargaining update: Flexible working arrangements
- Issue 17: APS-wide bargaining update: Flexible working arrangements - where to now
- Issue 18: APS-wide bargaining update: Commonwealth's response to claims
- Issue 19: APS-wide bargaining update: Broad support for common terms
- Issue 20: APS-wide bargaining update: Broad support for common terms
- Issue 21: APS-wide bargaining update: Pay will come back to the bargaining table
- Issue 22: APS-wide bargaining update:Broad support for common conditions
- Issue 23: APS-wide bargaining update: Unpacking your pay offer
- Issue 24: APS-wide bargaining update: Preparing the Statement of Common Conditions
- Issue 25: APS-wide bargaining update: APS bargaining common conditions: what it means for you
- Issue 26: APS-wide bargaining update: Upcoming bargaining meeting
- Issue 27: APS-wide bargaining update: Response to the Commonwealth's pay offer
- Issue 28: APS-wide bargaining update: What could you get?
- Issue 29: APS-wide bargaining update: Conditions you may not know about
- Issue 30: APS-wide bargaining update: Consistent and secure flexible working arrangement
- Issue 31: APS-wide bargaining update: Update on APS bargaining package of pay and conditions
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