Department of Planning, Industry and Environment: Members’ update on consolidation of flexible working arrangements
Members have previously been updated on the proposed consolidation of flexible working arrangements in the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE). Your workplace Delegates have undertaken a herculean effort to provide the PSA with detailed comparisons of your current flexible working arrangements and the proposed DPIE FWHA. This subsequent comparison work identified a number of agencies that would be considerably affected by adopting anything that looked like the provisions of the current proposed DPIE FWHA in terms of the:
- accumulation of hours
- taking of accrued time per period
- extinguishment of current entitlements to overtime and excess travel time.
Accordingly, the PSA has met with DPIE representatives on several occasions and has since written back to the Department formally with regard to the negotiation and our concerns, namely:
- the proposed means of negotiation that included current Award entitlements being affected
- the benefit of compartmentalising negotiations to include only current FWHAs and Clause 21 Crown Employees Conditions of Employment Award affected agencies
- the proposed diminution of entitlements for large groups of PSA members contained in DPIE
- the current parameters dictated by central Government on limiting flexible arrangements like banking of days in new FWHAs.
Accordingly, the PSA has sought agreement that:
- current Award-based entitlements would be exempted from this consolidation process going forward
- the current banking entitlements continue and are adopted agency-wide
- current bandwidths in agreements (not current emergency arrangements) be maintained
- the standard hours default for work from home be removed.
The subsequent verbal response from DPIE representatives (which is still waiting on formal confirmation) is that the consolidation process under the terms proposed by the PSA may simply be too difficult to administer and that the current consolidation proposal is to be shelved.
What does the status quo mean for DPIE staff?
DPIE staff will continue to operate their flexible work in the way that they have done in the past, in accordance with their respective instruments.
For DPIE staff who derive their entitlements from Awards
This can and should be considered the best outcome. Working hours that are fundamentally more flexible with regard to the accumulation of hours and the taking of time accrued will be maintained and the sanctity of those Awards will remain intact.
For DPIE staff on current FWHAs
There is no increase or decrease in the ability to accrue hours or take time. The PSA remains of the opinion that there is scope to continue those negotiations on the basis of consistency and because DPIE can always seek to terminate those FWHAs in accordance with the provisions of those agreements.
For DPIE staff on Clause 21 CE
There is no change to the current entitlement that provides the least amount of flexibility and effectively continues a poor cousin arrangement. Consequently, the PSA has again called on DPIE to address those deficiencies and to be the ‘employer of choice’, especially for those agencies like SOPA. Agreement with DPIE on a way forward would be of benefit however, not a necessity. To its credit, DPIE has acknowledged the need for further discussions now that SOPA has moved its payroll system to another DPIE platform. This may include discussions on an existing DPIE FWHA that may be acceptable to SOPA members. DPIE has flagged those discussions for early in the new year.
If there are two things to take away from the COVID-19 pandemic is that NSW public servants in DPIE have demonstrated the ability to work more flexibly and that our members will resist any diminution of those flexible working arrangements.
Merry Christmas from the PSA
The PSA wishes all our members a safe and happy Christmas and extends our appreciation for public servants who have continued to deliver critical public services to the people of NSW despite the lockdowns and dislocation that COVID has caused this year.
Fingers crossed for a more normal 2022.