Maintaining clear and easy to read workplace arrangements
What does the Government’s Public Sector Workplace Relations Policy 2020 (the Policy) require of workplace arrangements?
The Policy requires enterprise agreements and other workplace arrangements to be simple, clear and easy to read. This is to ensure employees can clearly understand what they are entitled to.
Agencies undertook significant effort in previous bargaining rounds to streamline workplace arrangements to ensure employee conditions and entitlments are clear and easy to read. This work helped to resolve possible confusion over employee terms and conditions of employment.
Employment conditions include things like annual leave, personal/carer’s leave, allowances, overtime, penalty rates, parental leave and redundancy payments.
Does the Policy require cuts to employment conditions?
Enterprise agreements and other workplace arrangements such as determinations and common law contracts set out employment conditions and these remain enforceable.
The Policy does not require cuts to existing employment conditions, though it does allow for some conditions to be traded-off in exchange for improvements to other conditions of similar value.
Why is some content more appropriate in workplace policy or guidelines?
Administrative content is more appropriately contained in workplace HR policies or procedures. For example, process detail about leave applications, the forms you need to complete, the systems you need to use, the steps you need to take, etc.
It is important not to confuse administrative clauses that represent HR policy and procedures, or special arrangements for unions, with actual employment conditions. These types of clauses are not employment conditions.
It is the procedural requirements relating to the administration of employment conditions that are more appropriately contained in HR policies.
Why can’t clauses about detailed processes be included in an enterprise agreement?
Introducing administrative content into public sector enterprise agreements and other workplace arrangements would make them long, complicated and inflexible. For example, detailed procedures outlined in an enterprise agreement could make it more difficult for agencies to make sensible changes to policy and procedures. This is not helpful to agencies or their employees.
It is in the interests of both agencies and their employees for enterprise agreements to be straightforward and flexible. This enables both management and employees to readily understand their rights and obligations. A straightforward and flexible agreement also helps managers and employees respond to change and challenges.
What if there is a disagreement about a workplace HR policy?
There are various review mechanisms available should there be disagreement about how a workplace HR policy is applied. These include:
- established internal agency procedures that deal with disputes about HR policies;
- review of actions provisions in the Public Service Act 1999;
- protections in the Fair Work Act 2009; and
- other legislation relating to matters such as anti-discrimination.
The review mechanisms available will depend on the circumstances.