COVID-19 response – temporary variation of Flexible Working Hours Agreement

NOTE – Apart from Employee Relations this email only relates to those covered by the current Department of Premier and Cabinet Flexible Working Hours Agreement.

The PSA was recently contacted by the Department of Premier and Cabinet seeking temporary variations of the Flexible Working Hours Agreement (FWHA) for all non-executive employees at DPC.

As you will have been advised, the changes suspend core time, increase the bandwidth to 6.00am – 10.00pm and postpone the forfeiture of banked flex days from 30 June 2020 to 31 December 2020.

This would also cover the Public Service Commission, Parliamentary Counsel’s Office and the Western City & Aerotropolis Authority who are also under the DPC FWHA.  In regard to Employee Relations Branch who have recently joined DPC with an existing FWHA, the only impact is an extension to their bandwidth.

What does it do?

The temporary suspension of core time and extension of bandwidth will provide staff with greater levels of flexibility when and how they work their contract of employment hours especially if:

  1. they are required to work from home/alternative work locations or;
  2. they are working from or travelling to the office very early, or very late in order to maintain social distancing or:
  3. 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 current schooling arrangements

The aim of these variations are to better support employees balancing work and personal responsibilities due to COVID-19.

Whilst seeing benefits for our members in these arrangements, the PSA was also wary of any potential negative outcomes.  With those in mind, the PSA communicated its concerns with the DPC before agreeing to the temporary variation.

There will be two opportunities for review with the PSA during the time frame of this arrangement.  They will be scheduled around the finalisation of a settlement period to ensure feedback and concerns are captured.

The PSA raised concerns in relation to overtime provisions.  We sought, and received, confirmation that there was no change to existing Award provisions.  Overtime is applicable where a staff member is directed to work beyond 7 hours.

We further made it clear that the variations did not enable managers to make people work unreasonable hours.  DPC advised that they actively intend to educate their Senior Executives on what this might mean for their employees, given they are not covered by the FWHA.

Arrangements for employees should be developed through communication between employee and manager with proper recognition of the unusual circumstances in which we all find ourselves.

Where concerns arise in regard to this matter you can contact the PSA on 1300 772 679

 

 

 

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