The regular JCC between the Department and PSA continues. However, due to COVID-19 it now provides an opportunity to discuss the Department’s response to the new challenges and for PSA Delegates and staff to raise issues.
Current status of Restructure Management Plans (RMPs) and Realignments
The Department has confirmed its position that, unless already underway, no current RMP will progress to the point where the Department will declare staff excess and the Department will not be initiating any new RMPs at this time.
The same does not apply for realignments – where no staff are being declared excess, these will continue.
The Customer Engagement Integration (CEI) RMP will continue although the initial target date for completion by June may not be achievable at this time. The Transition Management Plan for the CEI is still under dispute and the PSA will have further information for members on the progress of that dispute shortly.
Temporary changes to the DFSI/DCS Flexible Working Hours Agreement in response to COVID-19
In recognition that current circumstances are far from normal with a large number of staff now working from home and having to juggle career responsibilities with work, the Department has looked at a range of temporary changes to the FWHA to accommodate staff needs.
These will be announced to staff on 3 April and are effective from 6 April 2020 when the following temporary changes to the DFSI FWHA will be implemented:
- Suspension of core hours
- Increase in the bandwidth from 6:00am-10:00pm (for the current and next flex period)
- Carry over debit to be increased from 10 to 35 hours for the next flex period
- Flexibility of hours staff may work in one day
- Turning off the 30-day rec leave restriction to accessing flex leave.
The temporary changes will provide staff with greater levels of flexibility when and how they work their contract of employment hours especially if:
- they are required to work from home/alternative work locations or;
- they are working from the office very early, or very late in order to maintain social distancing or:
- they have school-aged children or other primary caring responsibilities that would ordinarily preclude them from working during core time or in bandwidth due to the advice from the Premier to keep children at home.
A question has been raised as to excess credit flex time above the current 42-hour carry-over limit and whether that can be extended if required. In the interim, if members have concerns that they are going to forfeit hours you are encouraged to discuss this with your supervisor/manager.
Note: These arrangements do not generally apply to Service NSW staff who are mostly rostered staff and on a different agreement.
Members are reminded that they should still be in discussions with their immediate supervisor/manager as to your FWHA arrangements as per normal.
Working from home arrangements and EAP
A number of DCS staff our now working from home (WFH) and more will be doing so going into the future, The Department has confirmed it is in the process of updating its information so that it is more relevant to the current situation.
This will include a new WFH-WHS checklist. The new checklist is being developed by the Employee Safety and Wellbeing unit with HSR consultation and will hopefully be released for further consultation soon.
The Department also highlighted their new EAP provider, Benestar. The new provider has a better package of resources available for staff and the Department is satisfied that they have the capacity to provide the necessary services for the expected increased use by staff at this time.
Concerns about ongoing work
In recognition of the impact that COVID-19 has had on employment, the Department has attempted to maintain all employment types (including contractors) to minimise any extra burden on the system at this time.
Where necessary, staff may be redeployed to other areas within the Department to meet demand if there is no ongoing work in their area.
Management should also be using this time as an opportunity for self-development and for staff to use this time to undertake mandatory training against their performance development plan etc.
C2020-01 Employment Arrangements during COVID-19, Special Leave
There have been a number of requests through to the Department for access to special leave, some general principles apply and were outlined by the Department as being:
- Illness due to COVID-19, in the first instance sick leave is to be used, where sick leave is exhausted then special leave will be applied (it is not expected that staff should use recreation leave)
- When directed not to attend work due to COVID – 19, the hierarchy is:
- Can remote work (i.e. work from home) be implemented, if not then
- Special leave will apply.
Members can contact the PSA for further assistance and requests will be reviewed on a case by case basis by the Department.
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