Redundancy Protections for SAS Staff – 19th Dec 2012
Redundancy Protections for SAS Staff
Earlier this year the PSA sought legal advice on the question of how to best secure redundancy protections for SAS Staff.
As a result of this advice, the union resolved to apply to the Industrial Relations Commission to have the SAS Staff Award changed to include redundancy protections.
This led to the Department developing a policy on this issue. The policy, called
Managing Excess Employee Policy for School Administrative and Support Staff, was put in place by the Department on 29 October 2012.
The introduction of the policy means that SAS Staff who do not find a suitable position after going through the nominated transfer process will be offered the choice between a voluntary redundancy or three months redeployment.
Redeployment is another opportunity to look for a suitable position within the school system. It is similar to the nominated transfer process.
Under the policy, if an employee chooses redeployment instead of voluntary redundancy
but is unsuccessful in finding a position during the redeployment process, the employee will be made forcibly redundant.
There is a significant difference between the payments made to those employees who accept a voluntary redundancy package and those who engage the redeployment process and are then made forcibly redundant.
An employee can only be offered voluntary redundancy once.
School Principals do not have the authority to offer voluntary redundancy or to nominate someone for the nominated transfer process.
A SAS Staff member can only be offered a redundancy when the existing nominated transfer
process has been followed and a suitable position has not been found.
Redundancy is only offered in the situation where a position has been abolished, so if you decide to retire or resign, then you are not entitled to redundancy.
The only other way that a SAS Staff member can be offered redundancy is if the department is successful in implementing their proposal to abolish 400 jobs as a result of implementing
LMBR. The PSA strongly rejects the need for these jobs to be cut and is fighting the cuts.
However, if the Department insists on abolishing
400 SAS staff jobs, then voluntary redundancies may be offered at that time. This will occur through the Department, not through your Principal.
Please note: The SAS Staff Managing Excess Employees Policy does not apply to General Assistants. General Assistants are already covered by the Public Service Managing Excess Employees policy.
Next steps for redundancy protection – PSA fights on
The PSA’s case to have redundancy protections in the SAS Staff Award was heard in the NSW Industrial Relations Commission in October and the decision on the matter was handed down
by His Honour, President Boland on Friday, 16
Unfortunately, the Commission determined that the NSW Government’s recent changes to the Industrial Relations Act prevented the Commission from amending the SAS Staff Award to include
the redundancy clause that the PSA was seeking. This is because one of the changes made by the O’Farrell Government earlier this year, means
that policies regarding the management of excess public sector employees can’t be included in Awards.
As such, the Commission found that the SAS Staff Award cannot be varied to include any clause on redundancy protections.
While this decision is not what the union wanted, the PSA is pleased that our actions have led to the Department introducing a policy for SAS staff which provides for a redundancy payment and a redeployment period which begins only once the nominated transfer process has been followed.
The PSA is continuing this fight by appealing the decision of the Commission as the union believes that the changes to the Industrial Relations Act do not prevent the Commission from including some, if not all, of the changes the PSA sought to the SAS Staff Award.
So, while it was a good step forward for the Department to finally develop a policy around redundancy protections for SAS Staff, a policy is not a legally binding document and can be altered any time.
The PSA is fighting to:
• have the redundancy protections apply to long term temporary staff as well as permanent staff;
• have protections in the SAS Staff Award so that the Department won’t be able to make changes to the protections without consultation with the union.
Earlier this year, 229 schools were selected through an expression of interest process, to be part of the Federal Government’s Empowering Local Schools (ELS) National Partnerships. As
a result, these schools are implementing the first phase of the LMBR roll out and the State Government’s Local Schools, Local Decisions (LSLD) policy.
Empowering Local Schools and Local Schools, Local Decisions have the same objective, that
is, to decentralise decision making to the school
Principal. This includes decisions on staffing.
As of day 1, term 4, 2012, Principals in the 229 schools have the power to alter the staffing mix upon vacancy.
This means, that when a position becomes vacant in a ‘229 school’, the Principal is no longer required to fill it in accordance with the staffing operations procedures and does not need to adhere to the formula which sets out the number of SAS Staff appointed to each school.
The Principal may choose to fill it or may choose
to fill it part time, or on a temporary basis, or not at all.
This is one of the most significant changes arising from the implementation of
Local Schools, Local Decisions and Empowering Local Schools.
It poses a significant threat to the job security of PSA members who have, until now, relied upon the existing transfer system for job security. If positions are not filled or filled on a temporary or part-time basis, opportunities to be redeployed or transferred to other schools are reduced.
This change can also mean increased workloads for SAS staff if vacancies are not filled.
The PSA is also worried that schools will begin employing people to perform the functions and duties of SAS staff without using the relevant industrial award.
These issues can lead to:
• work overload;
• reduced job security and opportunities for transfer;
• reduction in pay and supervisory responsibilities for School Administrative Managers;
• less work and/or responsibility as a result of introducing different classifications or paraprofessionals into the SAS staff workforce;
• the expectation that SAS staff will perform work outside of their duty statement.
The only opportunity the PSA has had to comment on the introduction of this change was through the Choosing the Staffing Mix guidelines forwarded to the Association on 21 November, and implemented by the Department the following week.
The majority of the changes sought by the PSA to the guidelines were rejected without discussion.
The PSA is already aware that Principals in some of the ‘229 schools’ are choosing to fill permanent vacancies on a temporary basis and engaging inexperienced people from the community to undertake work that should be performed by SAS staff.
This matter is now before the Industrial Relations
Commission for conciliation.
REGIONAL SASS REFERENCE GROUPS (RSRGs)
The PSA has regularly met with the Department
and raised concerns about the future of RSRGs and the recurrent one million dollar funding they receive to support their activities.
RSRGs identify and co-ordinate training for all School Administrative and Support (SAS) Staff in schools. There are currently 10 regional groups in NSW, each comprising DEC representatives and elected SAS Staff who together form the RSRG committee. Each classification of SAS Staff is represented on the committee.
The PSA negotiated the establishment of the RSRGs and also secured recurrent funding of $1 million per year.
As a consequence of the DEC head office restructure, the Professional Learning Leadership Development Directorate (PLLDD) which monitored and assisted RSRGs, no longer exists.
In addition the new regional support model reduces the 10 regions to 5 clusters.
The Head Office restructure, in particular the job cuts to the Professional Learning Directorate, and the
New Model of Support to Schools, will reduce the support which RSRGs receive from the Department and fundamentally changes the way that the regions operate.
However, despite repeated requests, the PSA has yet to be advised what impact this will have on the operation and organisation of RSRGs.
This matter is now before the NSW Industrial
DISPUTE IN COMMISSION – LONG TERM TEMPORARY SLSO APPEALS FOR PERMANENCY
Following an appearance in the Industrial Relations Commission on 31 August, 53 appeals were escalated to the Deputy Director General for consideration.
On 12 November the PSA wrote to the Deputy Director General requesting advice on the outcome of those appeals by 16 November.
On 20 November the PSA received advice from the Department regarding the decisions on 29 of those appeals.
The PSA is not satisfied with the information provided by the Department or the decisions made.
The PSA has again taken this matter to the
Commission to resolve the remaining appeals.
ABORIGINAL EDUCATION OFFICERS (AEOs)
On behalf of the AEO steering committee the PSA has raised concerns regarding:
• the number of vacant AEO positions;
• the existing AEO staff-to-student ratios and the possible effects of
Local Schools, Local Decisions on the ratios;
• the future of the Norta Norta program funding. In response, the Department has advised that
there are 13 vacant AEO positions. Three of these are in the final stages of the selection process and five are to be advertised in February 2013. The remaining five are being discussed with school principals.
With regard to the AEO staff to student ratios, the Department stated that AEO employment funding is a capped state resource and that there is no current AEO to student ratio.
The Aboriginal Education Consultative Group
which advises the Department on Aboriginal issues and the Department reached an understanding
and agreed practice on ratios many years ago.
As a result of this, there has been a long standing practice of implementing a ratio of 1 AEO to 30 students or 2 AEOs to every 80 students.
The PSA will follow up on this issue at our next meeting with the Department.
The Department stated that the Norta Norta program funding will continue in 2013. It is expected that 703 schools and over 3,000 senior students will apply for funding or sponsorship.
From 2014 the new Resource Allocation Model (RAM) will include a loading for Aboriginal students in schools.
By Sue Walsh (President) and Maria Cirillo (Senior Industrial Officer)
OUR JOBS SUPPORT EDUCATION
Authorised by Anne Gardiner, General Secretary, Public Service Association of NSW, 160 Clarence Street, Sydney, NSW, 2000