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.
Commonwealth’s Pay Offer 2023
The Australian Government is committed to providing APS employees with fair and equitable conditions of employment through genuine APS bargaining. In addition to negotiating a set of common terms and conditions, we are also seeking to provide a fair and affordable pay rise for APS employees.
The Commonwealth considered a range of factors when determining its pay offer, including:
- recent wage outcomes across Australia
- numerous economic indicators
- the current labour market
- Budgetary considerations
The Commonwealth’s pay offer is for 10.5% over 3 years with the following breakdown:
- 4 per cent in the first year.
- 3.5 per cent in the second year.
- 3 per cent in the third year.
The date of effect for any agreed pay increase is a matter for APS-wide bargaining.
The Commonwealth's pay offer as tabled today represents the largest pay increase that APS employees will have received in over ten years.
Read more about the Commonwealth’s Pay Offer here.
Read more, including the breakdown of how the offer benefits APS employees at different classifications here.
Commonwealth’s approach to reduce pay fragmentation
The Chief Negotiator for APS Bargaining, Peter Riordan PSM CF, has tabled the Commonwealth’s initial approach to addressing decades of pay fragmentation that has developed across the Australian Public 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 proposed approach to reduce pay fragmentation creates a base salary range at each APS classification from APS1 – EL2. It reduces the current average fragmentation from 26 per cent to 18 per cent.
The proposal defines:
- a minimum base salary that agencies must meet or exceed. Employees whose salaries would be below the new minimum will receive an additional pay rise to address this, in addition to the APS-wide proposed pay offer.
- a base maximum salary for each classification.
The proposed approach is expected to benefit employees across 48 APS agencies. Agencies delivering important services for First Nations communities, and agencies in the cultural sector will be among those to benefit.
The approach and how it is applied to APS pay scales will be a matter for bargaining with unions and Individual Bargaining Representatives (IBRs).
In addition to the steps to address pay fragmentation, the Commonwealth has proposed a pay offer of 10.5% 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.
Read more about the base salary structure.
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). 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.
What it means for you
The release of the Public Sector Interim Workplace Arrangements 2022 (Interim Arrangements) in October 2022 gave the Commission the time to consult on and develop the best approach to service-wide bargaining.
All Commonwealth public sector employees will get a 3 per cent pay increase under the Interim Arrangements, where these occur over the operational period of the Interim Arrangements.
There will be a different process for APS-wide bargaining and agency-level bargaining:
- You will get the opportunity to contribute to the development of common terms and conditions.
- APS employees and agencies will continue to have the flexibility to bargain for other requirements at an agency level once common terms and conditions are established at an APS-wide level
Who is doing this work
The Commission has established the new Workplace Relations Bargaining Taskforce to undertake this work. Peter Riordan PSM will lead the Taskforce as the Deputy
Commissioner, Workplace Relations Bargaining Taskforce. He has a lot of workplace relations experience in the public sector, including in senior positions in the NSW government. He will lead service wide negotiations when they begin in early 2023.
Last updated 31 March 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
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.
Proposed common conditions
In preparation for APS bargaining, the Workplace Relations Bargaining Taskforce prepared a list of potential common conditions for discussion with unions and Employee Bargaining Representatives (EBRs) during bargaining.
This list was designed to be a starting point to facilitate discussions with unions and EBRs to identify and agree on a set of common conditions for inclusion in all APS enterprise agreements:
- Definitions – common language across EAs
- Duration of agreements or common pay increase dates
- Statement on respect at work
- NES precedence clause
- Employment types
- Casual conversion
- Hours of work
- Flex time for APS and equivalent level employees
- Time off in lieu for executive level employees
- Flexible working arrangements
- Recovery of overpayments
- Business travel (domestic)
- Remote localities
- Incremental advancement
- Salary on promotion and commencement
- Higher duties allowance
- Worker responsibility allowance
- Relocation assistance
- Shift penalties
- Portability of leave
- Annual leave
- Personal leave
- Purchased leave
- Sabbatical leave
- Parental leave
- Long service leave
- Family and domestic violence
- Cultural & NAIDOC leave
- Defence reservists leave
- Defence service sick leave
- Community service leave
- Compassionate and bereavement leave
- Public holidays
- Christmas closedown
- Lactation breaks
- Leave without pay
- Re-crediting of leave
- Study assistance
- Redundancy, retrenchment and redeployment
- Delegates rights
- Dispute resolution
- Individual flexibility arrangements
- Supported wage system
Unions and EBRs have suggested other proposed items for discussion in bargaining. A consolidated list of items from all bargaining parties to date is now available in the bargaining schedule. The bargaining schedule is a working document that is flexible to facilitate additional claims from Unions and EBRs throughout bargaining. The Taskforce recognises that not all items may be discussed on the specified date. The schedule contains room to re-schedule items as required.
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
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