The purpose of this circular is to advise agencies of changes to the information concerning the temporary movement of ongoing employees which was contained in Advice Number 6 Staffing Actions: Ongoing Employees (the Staffing Actions Advice) issued in November 1999.
2. Under section 26 of the Public Service Act 1999 (the Act) and Public Service Regulation 3.9 the current agency’s approval is not required before an employee can accept an ongoing or temporary movement to another agency. In developing the Act it was always intended that the current agency would need to have some ‘control’ over whether or not an employee could move on a temporary basis to another agency.
3. It was the Commission’s view that this ‘control’ would be exercised through the current agency not agreeing to the employee’s return - thus effectively denying the employee the opportunity of a temporary move (Paragraph 77 of the Staffing Actions Advice).
4. When advice was obtained from the Australian Government Solicitor (AGS) that once the term of a temporary movement agreement finishes, the employee concerned has a right to resume his or her employment in the current Agency, the APS Commission was forced to re-examine the overall policy relating to temporary movements.
5. The Commonwealth Managers Network (COMNET) has been briefed on the changed arrangements, including by a presentation by AGS. Given this, and in anticipation of settling new regulations that redress the issue and restore the initial policy intent we have not until now corrected the information in the Staffing Actions Advice.
6. The following information replaces Paragraph 77 of the Staffing Actions Advice:
"If an ongoing employee enters into an agreement with a new Agency Head to move on a temporary basis, the Agency Head cannot prevent the employee moving to and returning from the new agency at the end of the temporary movement.
On return, there is no requirement for the Agency Head to assign to the employee the same duties the employee was performing immediately prior to the temporary movement. Should there be no suitable duties at the employee’s classification available on return and the employee becomes excess to requirements, then the redeployment and redundancy provisions in the Certified Agreement or Australian Workplace Agreement would apply.
The date of effect of a temporary movement is four weeks from the day that the current Agency Head is told of the agreement unless an earlier or later date is agreed. A temporary movement cannot take effect if the current Agency Head is not told of the agreement.
Should an employee fail to notify the current Agency Head of the move and leaves the current Agency, the movement would not be valid. This means that the employee would still be an employee of the current Agency and subject to provisions covering unauthorised absence until the movement takes effect."
7. The APS Commission is consulting with the Office of Legislative Drafting over the preparation of draft regulations on temporary movement. The regulations, if agreed, would give the current Agency Head some control over the temporary movement of an employee to another agency by providing that the temporary nature of the agreement only has effect if the current Agency Head gives approval in writing to the movement.
8. Agencies will be advised of any new regulations prior to their commencement to allow dissemination of information to all staff and the amendment of any internal policies.
9. General enquiries in relation to temporary movement can be directed to the APS Commission’s Helpline on (02) 6202 3859.
Acting Group Manager
Policy and Employment Group
8 July 2002