A meeting of the Workplace Consultative Committee took place on 15 September 2017. The following issues were discussed:
- Public Service Commission – People Matters Survey
The appointment of Ms Carmel McGregor as consultant following the results of the People Matters Survey was discussed. Advice was provided that the consultant would be seeking further information, holding focus groups, meeting one-on-one with staff and preparing a report which will include recommendations. This work is to be completed by mid-October 2017.
The PSA requested the Terms of Reference for Ms McGregor’s engagement be made available to staff. This was agreed to.
It was made clear at the meeting the consultant would not have access to the free text – the comments made by staff – in the survey. This reflects a determination by the PSC on the basis of confidentiality.
The PSA believes the results of the People Matters Survey are deeply concerning, a fact which was acknowledged by management. It indicated it is hoping Ms McGregor’s work assists in developing strategies that can be readily implemented to improve staff engagement and ensure staff are “safe, happy and supported”. Clearly this is going to require a much bigger effort than the work of a consultant engaged until mid-October.
The PSA indicated we would be available to meet with Ms McGregor. We encourage staff to participate in the process. If any difficulties are encountered, please let the PSA know and we will follow up on your behalf.
- PSA staff survey
With the release of the People Matters Survey, it was an opportune time to provide management with the results of the PSA’s staff survey.
The full results of the PSA’s survey, which include comments from staff, have not been provided at this stage due to the issue of confidentiality. Similar concerns are identified to the People Matters Survey, particularly in relation to bullying issues.
The PSA thanks all members who participated. We will be guided by members’ views as to whether to provide the full report to management.
The PSA again raised concerns about the heavy workload experienced by staff and the work, health and safety risks this poses.
Management denied any one staff member would ever have a caseload of 300. The PSA was advised there has been a decrease in work allocated to assessment officers. We were advised staff are working on reducing the backlog and steps are being taken to relieve pressure points in the lead-up to the Christmas/New Year period.
Members may wish to provide feedback on this matter. The PSA reiterated its concerns about excessive workloads and the need for significant and sustained improvement as a matter of urgency.
- Refurbishment project
Management advised it is proposed to change desk configurations, repurpose the current conference room, change the reception area and improve the kitchen space. The PSA was advised hot-desking was not part of the project. This is welcome news.
The PSA raised the work, health and safety issues that exist at the HCCC in terms of boxes and files and made the point the refurbishment was an opportunity to address these.
The PSA recommended an Accommodation Working Group be established, including staff representation. This was agreed to.
- Policy update
The HCCC is reducing the number of policies from over 30 down to 16. A policy on performance management is close to finalisation and the PSA encourages all staff to familiarise themselves with this document when it is issued.
- Social media policy
The PSA was advised the HCCC had no social media policy. The PSA argued all agencies should have social media policies to provide staff with appropriate guidance. Management agreed to take this on board in the current policy work being undertaken. The PSA has subsequently provided an example of a social media policy to assist in the process.
As the HCCC does not have a social media policy as this point in time, the PSA has some practical suggestions to pass on to members following a presentation at the recent PSA Women’s Conference. We recognise our HCCC members are dealing with sensitive information on a daily basis and are likely to be conscientious users of social media, however, there is no harm in considering a few simple steps to protect yourself:
- There is no general right to privacy in Australia when it comes to social media. Employers may be able to take disciplinary action against employees if online activities have an impact on the employment relationship
- Be careful about making comments about your agency, the government, its policies or co-workers on social media, particularly with an ‘open’ social media account or where you are ‘friends’ with co-workers
- Check social media privacy settings. You might want to consider having them set at the highest possible level and avoid having your account accessible by the public at large
- Be careful in ‘liking’ or ‘retweeting’ comments which have negative impact on your employer’s reputation. They may imply agreement
- If you have open social media, think about how photos you post may be perceived by your current employer or prospective employers checking up on you. ***
Your PSA industrial officer is Carmel McKeough –email@example.com.
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*** Advice provided to PSA members by Maurice Blackburn Lawyers at PSA Women’s Conference on 13 September 2017.