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Updated guidance on staff working from home arrangements

The Australian Public Service Commissioner, Peter Woolcott AO, has today released updated guidance for public servants on working arrangements during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr Woolcott said the updated guidance makes clear that, wherever practicable, public servants should work from home, subject to the decisions of Agency heads.

The Government considers the APS to be an essential service which needs to keep working in order to keep Australians safe, and ensure that services are delivered for the Australian people. We can provide the support our community needs, but it is going to require the contribution of the entire APS. Every public servant who can work, should work.

“These are extraordinary times. A time where the Australian Public Service is essential to keep Australians safe, and to deliver services for the Australian people. Our focus is on both employees’ health and wellbeing, and importantly the continued delivery of critical public services,” said Mr Woolcott.

It is also critical that the APS is deployed to where needs are greatest. To ensure this is the case, the Prime Minister this week signed a Determination asking agency heads to facilitate movement of staff between agencies urgently to perform critical functions.

The Australian Public Service Commission has established an APS Workforce Management Taskforce to manage the mobility of our workforce across all APS departments and agencies. The taskforce is in the early stages of identifying the critical gaps in capacity across the Australian Public Service. In the short term, the key priority is to increase capacity in areas that are critical to the delivery of government services.

“Agency heads have always had the flexibility for employees to work at home subject to operational requirements. But current circumstances mean as soon as practicable Agency heads should facilitate their staff working from home where possible. Today I have released guidance that makes this clear,” said Mr Woolcott.

“The decision of whether employees work in their usual office environment, a different office environment, or from home, is a matter for the Head of each APS agency. Working from home is a priority, wherever this is practicable.”

If working from home is not possible due to operational requirements, agencies must ensure staff working in office environments are adhering to social distancing principles, and following the latest health and hygiene advice from the Department of Health, and the Chief Medical Officer.

Australian Public Service Commission guidance on this matter can be found at www.apsc.gov.au/circular-20203-covid-19-remote-working-and-evolving-work-arrangements

For further information, email media [at] apsc.gov.au.