Open Letter to the Australian Public Service on APS Bargaining: Package of common pay and conditions
APS Bargaining: Package of common pay and conditions
APS‑wide bargaining has been underway since 30 March 2023 and through this process we are taking steps to provide you with fair and equitable pay and conditions of employment.
I’ve considered over 1,500 claims from your employee bargaining representatives and participated in over 60 meetings to ensure every claim was considered.
It’s now timely that I update you on progress towards establishing APS-wide common pay and conditions. My priority is to make sure you are well informed about our progress and how you will benefit.
Today, in my role as Chief Negotiator for your agency during APS-wide bargaining, I tabled an improved Commonwealth pay offer and its timing, an enhanced base salary structure to take initial steps towards addressing pay fragmentation, and significant improvements to parental leave.
You told me through the APS bargaining survey at the start of the year that pay, flexible working arrangements and leave are the matters that are most important to you. Through APS bargaining, I am able to offer significant improvements across all of these areas for APS employees.
Your pay increase and when you’ll get it
The Commonwealth’s improved pay offer is for 11.2 per cent over 3 years with the following breakdown:
- 4 per cent from the first full pay period after 1 March 2024.
- 3.8 per cent from the first full pay period after 1 March 2025.
- 3.4 per cent from the first full pay period after 1 March 2026.
On Tuesday 16 May 2023 I tabled an initial Commonwealth Pay Offer of a 10.5 per cent increase over 3 years. The improved offer remains the largest pay increase APS employees will have received in over a decade.
The improved pay offer exceeds the Wage Price Index for the June quarter 2023. This index has underpinned APS salary increases in many agencies in recent years. It is also in line with recent state and territory public sector wage offers, with no offer exceeding 4% in the first year.
The first increase from the improved pay offer would take effect on the first full pay period after 1 March 2024. This will allow more than 50 agencies to bring forward their next scheduled pay increase.
For other agencies who were due to provide a pay increase before March 2024, employees will get an additional realignment payment to support the transition to the new common pay increase date. You will get this payment close to your scheduled pay increase, and before you finalise your agency’s enterprise agreement.
More information is available on apsc.gov.au/bargaining.
An enhanced base salary structure to address pay fragmentation
In addition to the pay offer, I also tabled an adjusted base salary range at each APS classification from APS1 ‑ EL2 to take initial steps to reduce pay fragmentation across the service. This reduces the current average fragmentation of pay from 25 per cent to 13 per cent over 3 years**.**
The base salary structure will lift salary scales in 83 different agencies, benefiting 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.
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 the combination of their base salary lift and the general pay increase. This supports your lowest paid colleagues which includes some of the agencies delivering critical services to First Nations people.
To work out what you could get under this pay outcome and base salary lifts, go to apsc.gov.au/bargaining.
Equal entitlements for parental leave
The suite of parental leave changes upholds the APS as an employer of choice and provides parents with equal and separate paid parental leave.
Today I was able to offer all APS employees:
- 18 weeks paid parental leave and the ability to take it at half pay for primary caregivers. 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 from the date of birth to what would have been 37 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.
To get more detail, including other improvements, go to apsc.gov.au/bargaining.
Locking in equal flexible work rights across the service
The Commonwealth has delivered a consistent approach to flexible work arrangements for all APS employees. The common flexible work provision:
- commits your agency to genuinely consider your flexible work requests, engage with you and approve these where possible
- recognises that flexibility applies to all roles in the agency, and different types of flexible working arrangements may be suitable for different types of roles or circumstances. This could include job sharing or part-time work
- places no caps on the number of days you can request to work from home and your agency will consider your request based on its merits and business requirements.
To get more details, go to apsc.gov.au/bargaining.
What happens next?
The pay offer and common conditions won’t come into effect until:
- You vote on your agency’s enterprise agreement.
- More than 50 per cent vote yes.
- Following a positive vote, the Fair Work Commission approves your agency’s enterprise agreement.
Before this can occur, however, 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 the first pay period after 1 March 2024.
I’ve also included a fact sheet of these and other negotiated common conditions for your consideration.
Peter Riordan PSM CF
Chief Negotiator, APS Bargaining
Australian Public Service Commission
29 August 2023