Chapter 9: Employment instruments and Individual Flexibility Arrangements
Primary employment instruments
A primary employment instrument is a comprehensive arrangement used to set the majority of the terms and conditions of an employee.
Employees within the APS generally have their employment terms and conditions set by one of the following primary employment instruments:
- Enterprise Agreements (EA)  
- Public Service Act Determinations (s24 (1) and (3)) (PSAD)
- Common Law Agreements (CLA)
- Australian Workplace Agreements (AWA).
From 2019 to 2020 the number of employees covered by an EA decreased from 129,219 to 105,232. At the same time the number of employees covered by a PSAD increased from 3,513 to 30,815. This follows machinery of government changes on 1 February 2020 which reduced the number of government departments from 18 to 14. Employees covered by an EA in an abolished department, who did not transfer to the coverage of another agency’s employment instrument, had their terms and conditions preserved in a s.24(3) determination made under the Public Service Act 1999 (PS Act). The vast majority of these were employees from the former Department of Human Services, now Services Australia (an Executive Agency).
Only 0.5% of employees are covered by a CLA or AWA that operates as the primary employment instrument.
Table 9.1 provides a breakdown by classification of primary employment instrument coverage.
Table 9.1 Employees by employment instrument and classification, 2020
|Primary Employment Instrument|
Public Service Act Determinations providing wage increases
In recent years the Australian Government’s workplace relations policies have allowed agencies to adopt new workplace arrangements to suit business needs.
Many agencies have put in place a s.24(1) determination made under the PS Act to provide new wage increases on top of an EA that has passed its nominal expiry date (refer Figure 9.1). Agencies that were satisfied with the operation of an existing EA, and gained the support of employees, have been able to provide new wage increases to employees through a determination instead of negotiating a new EA. As at 31 December 2020, 57 agencies including Services Australia, the Department of Defence and the Australian Taxation Office had used a determination as a secondary employment instrument to provide wage increases. Around 85,500 employees, or 63% of APS employees, have had their salary set in this way.
Figure 9.1 Supplementation of salaries in an Enterprise Agreement using a determination
Individual Flexibility Arrangements
A small percentage (2.1%) of employees have additional terms and conditions provided under a secondary agreement known as an Individual Flexibility Arrangement (IFA). Table 9.2 shows that 71% of employees using an IFA were at the EL 1 or EL 2 classification.
An IFA can be used to provide for a range of conditions such as pay and allowances, leave, income maintenance, flexible working arrangements, superannuation and subscriptions or memberships. In 2020, the majority of IFAs (83.9%) were used to provide pay and allowances. The second highest usage was for flexible working arrangements (10.4%).
Table 9.2 Number of employees with an IFA and distribution by classification
 Includes agencies using a Public Service Act Determination for the purposes of wage increases while continuing to provide other terms and conditions through an Enterprise Agreement that has passed its nominal expiry date.
 As at 31 December 2020 the Department of Home Affairs was covered by a Workplace Determination established by the Fair Work Commission. It is included under Enterprise Agreements for the purposes of this report.
 Services Australia put in place a s.24(1) determination as a secondary employment instrument to provide wage increases on top of a s.24(3) determination that preserved a former EA.
 This number includes employees covered by a new s.24(1) determination as at 31 December 2020 who had not received the initial wage increase as a result of Australian Government’s six month wage deferral decision. For further information on the wage deferral decision refer to Chapters 1 and 3.
 These numbers do not include IFAs made under abolished enterprise agreements that have been preserved through the operation of a s24(3) determination made under the PS Act.