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Supporting Guidance: Part 1 - Employment Arrangements

1 Employment Arrangements

1.1 Terms and conditions of employment for non-Senior Executive Service employees should be set out in enterprise agreements at the APS agency level, unless otherwise agreed by the Ministers.*

1.2 Enterprise agreements should be at least three years' duration.

1.3 APS agencies are required to maintain classification structures and work level standards consistent with the APS Classification Rules issued under the Public Service Act 1999, as updated periodically.*

1.1 Non-Senior Executive Service terms and conditions

1.1.1 It is Australian Government policy that terms and conditions for non-Senior Executive Service (SES) employees are negotiated separately by each agency in an enterprise agreement made under the Fair Work Act.

1.1.2 Where the relevant enterprise agreement does not provide arrangements suitable for an individual employee, an agency may make an individual flexibility arrangement with the employee to vary the necessary terms of the enterprise agreement in relation to that employee pursuant to the applicable flexibility clause. All individual flexibility arrangements must comply with legislative requirements, including meeting the Better Off Overall Test.

1.1.3 The Fair Work Act requires an individual flexibility term to be included in an enterprise agreement. An employee and employer may enter into an individual flexibility arrangement to trade off certain terms and conditions of employment, as outlined in the relevant enterprise agreement, in exchange for other benefits, providing the employee will be better off overall against the enterprise agreement.

1.1.4 An APS agency's flexibility term is expected to be the sole mechanism for providing additional or different terms and conditions to those otherwise available through an enterprise agreement for individual non-SES employees. Individual determinations made under the Public Service Act, or other employing legislation, or supplementary common law arrangements, should not be used to set terms and conditions for non-SES employees unless required in exceptional circumstances and such practices have been agreed to by the Ministers. Agencies wishing to adopt alternative arrangements should consult with the APSC in the first instance.

1.2 Duration of enterprise agreements

1.2.1 An enterprise agreement should be of at least three years' duration from the date of commencement. Agencies may bargain a longer agreement up to the legislated maximum of four years from the date of commencement.

1.3 Compliance with Classification Rules*

1.3.1 Section 23 of the Public Service Act provides the Australian Public Service Commissioner (the Commissioner) with the authority to make rules about the classifications of APS employees. The Public Service Classification Rules 2000 (the Classification Rules) allow employees and their duties to be classified on the basis of work value and enable the grouping of classifications at comparable levels.

1.3.2 APS agencies must ensure that the classification structures contained in enterprise agreements and other industrial instruments are consistent with the Classification Rules. Approved classifications are only those that appear in Schedules 1 and 2 of the Classification Rules.

1.3.3 To promote consistency in classification management and work value across the APS, the Commissioner intends to amend the Classification Rules with effect from 1 July 2014. It is strongly recommended that agencies consult with the APSC for clarification on matters relating to the impending changes to the Classification Rules.

1.3.4 Agencies should seek to implement the revised requirements, which for some may require a change to the structure and operation of existing classification arrangements, as part of their agreements. In exceptional circumstances, the APSC may consider alternative arrangements, particularly where these arrangements form part of a transition strategy to fully comply with the requirements and principles outlined below.

Work level standards

1.3.5 As part of the recent APS Classification Review, new work level standards have been developed for the APS levels 1 to 6 and the Executive level 1 and 2 classifications. The Commissioner intends to make the new work level standards mandatory.

1.3.6 APS-wide work level standards, once incorporated into the Classification Rules, will be legally binding. It is therefore unnecessary for agencies to include references to work level standards (the APS-wide or existing agency standards) in enterprise agreements. Where agreements do contain references to work level standards, agencies must ensure that enterprise agreements not provide for other standards.

Training classifications

1.3.7 It is recommended that agencies specify remuneration levels for each of the Training Classifications specified in the Classification Rules even if all Training Classifications are not routinely used, to facilitate the engagement of trainees during the life of the agreement.

1.3.8 Agencies that facilitate advancement to a classification following a training program that is above the operational classification specified in the Classification Rules must conduct a detailed work value assessment against the higher classification using the APS work level standards and provide this to the APSC.

Broadbanding classifications

1.3.9 A local title can be given to a broadband in addition to the approved classifications being broadbanded. Agreements should be drafted in a way that allows the agency and employees to clearly identify, at any point in time, what approved classification each employee holds.

1.3.10 In establishing a broadband, agencies must take into account the APS Employment Principles relating to merit and community access to employment opportunities. To meet the intent of the APS Employment Principles, all new agency broadbands must be structured so there are at least two breaks between the APS Levels 1 to 6 that require an open, competitive selection process. For example:

  • APS 1-3, APS 4-5, APS 6 or
  • APS 1-4, APS 5, APS 6 or
  • APS 1-2, APS 3-4, APS 5-6.

1.3.11 Broadbanding the Executive Level classifications is not appropriate due to the level of responsibility, management, leadership, complexity, judgement and accountability expected at these levels. As such, agencies are not permitted to introduce new broadbands that include the Executive Level 1 and Executive Level 2 classifications.

1.3.12 The three band classification framework for the SES cannot be broadbanded.

Minimum advancement requirements

1.3.13 As a minimum, each broadband must contain a number of ‘barriers’ which require an employee to meet specific training, development and performance criteria before they may advance to the next level in the broadband. Furthermore, an employee can only advance through the broadband where:

  1. sufficient work is available at the higher classification level; and
  2. they have gained the necessary skill and proficiencies to perform the more complex work; and
  3. performance is satisfactory.