The PSA and NCAT met earlier this month for the quarterly Joint Consultative Committee meeting. The PSA raised the following agenda items:
- Vacancies at CCD Sydney
- Counter arrangements CCD Sydney and
- Working from home
A summary of the meeting is provided below.
Vacancies at CCD Sydney
Cathy Szczygielski, Executive Director/Principal Registrar noted that there were 4.5 CCD vacancies not filled by temporary staff. There were difficulties training new staff in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Action is now being taken to fill through talent pools and EOIs.
The Principal Registrar advised that staff had done a fantastic job implementing changed procedures and moving work online to support NCAT to continue to deliver its services. She noted that NCAT work to date has been very good. The Principal Registrar also noted a reduction in social housing and tenancy matters due to policy changes and the tenancy eviction moratorium and that there was approximately a 19 per cent decrease in filings in May from May 2019.
Counter arrangements CCD Sydney
The Principal Registrar advised that courts and tribunals, as an essential service, and have not closed their counters. NCAT did however implement strategies to support non-contact registry services by encouraging people to contact NCAT by phone and email, by implementing drop boxes for people wanting to provide files and documents, and by advising tribunal users and the public on the Tribunal website about these alternatives to attending a registry in person. She also advised that sneeze guards were being installed at NCAT registry counters.
The Principal Registrar confirmed that NCAT would be following the guidelines provided by NSW Health and did not expect there to be any changes to the way in which NCAT services were being delivered before July 2020.
Working from Home (WHS) policy
The Principal Registrar noted that NCAT COVID-19 flexible working information and supporting documents had been distributed. She advised that the approach to flexible working arrangements accounted for issues such as medical vulnerability and the need to meet the four metre square per person and the 1.5 metre distancing requirements. She advised some staff were working from home where the nature of their work supported this, and others were working sometimes in the office and sometimes WFH on flexible roster arrangements. The Principal Registrar advised she was not aware of anyone who had requested a flexible working arrangement and had been denied.
Further, the Principal Registrar advised that she can be contacted in regard to issues members may have with WFH. Alternatively, members can contact the Divisional Registrar.
Chris Moore, PSA Delegate sought information about a likely timeframe for any proposed changes to the current WFH arrangements stating that members were concerned that there would be a sudden end to or a phased return to usual working arrangements.
The Principal Registrar advised that, as with the rest of the Public Service, the approach is that if staff are able to work at home there is no reason to change those arrangements and that they should continue to do so. She indicated that any return would likely be done gradually and noted it would require considerations such as meeting the need for 1.5 metre social distancing in both registry areas and in the future in the hearing rooms.
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