SafeWork Inspectors Competencies Dispute - Public Service Association

SafeWork Inspectors Competencies Dispute

SafeWork Inspectors Competencies Dispute - September 2019


The dispute originated from members who raised the issue of SafeWork NSW recruitment processes with the Vocational Group (VG), who took these concerns to the PSA.

The PSA & VG sought legal advice which confirmed the belief that SafeWork NSW has been in breach of the award by employing external candidates that do not hold the Advanced Diploma of Government Inspections.

The VG and PSA took this belief to the SafeWork Executive to resolve this issue but failed to resolve the matter.  As a result, the PSA & VG took the matter to the membership who decided by majority that they wanted to have this matter resolved through the Industrial Relations Commission, ultimately by arbitration if needed.

Since that decision by members, the matter has progressed and further advice has been received that requires the VG to again seek the majority view of its members.

Information from the presentation sessions:

On 3 September 2019 The VG and PSA legal counsel met in the commission with Justice Murphy mediating. The concern around the matter was that even if we were to win a S130 dispute, a win may not be enough to deliver fair and reasonable outcomes for Internal applicants during inspector recruitment and career progression and that the Department may exercise other options to achieve their aims.

If we lose the s130 dispute, the IRC has the option of amending the MOU/Award without our input.

The outcome of this session was that the PSA/VG agreed to develop a position that is an alternative to proceeding with a S130 dispute in the IRC, provide a presentation to inform all Inspectors of this position and seek PSA Members’ approval to continue a process of achieving a negotiated outcome.

How to vote

Members can access the Survey by clicking on the link below. Voting will be open until COM 20/09/19

The Proposal must be provided to DCS, and the Commission, no later than 23 September for the next session which is 1 October 2019.

The PowerPoint of that presentation can be found at HERE to PowerPoint

The VG/PSA and the Commissioner’s preferred position is to pursue the negations with the department.

A summary of the VG position is:

Despite the Department’s assurances of having a fair and balanced process for recruiting at SI/ASI level, there is no mechanism in place to make the process transparent and objective or to hold the department accountable to the guarantees.

While we cannot prevent recruiting externally due to the GSE Act, we can make the process fairer and balanced. The merit selection process disadvantages internal applicants.

The VG have developed a framework that makes this process both measurable and accountable.

The key points of the framework are:

  • Merit does not mean and should never have meant experience counts against you! Internal experience is not less valid or invalid. By working in the role you haven’t had the chance to gain the same experience gained by externals, this is where the tool is designed to provide recognition of experienced gained in the job as a balance to the experience sought in external applicants.
  • Risk – while the organisation sees value in external applicants, there is not recognition of the risk posed by their lack of experience in WHS regulatory function, both to the organisation and to the workers of NSW by the provision of substandard advice or services. Weighting of internal applicants is designed to recognise their skills in WHS regulatory function and address this risk.
  • Ensuring adequate weighting is applied to applicants with regulatory and inspectorial knowledge, skills, & experience to support internal applicants’ expertise and performance to be adequately recognised and assessed, and establish a fair and equitable recruitment process for SafeWork Inspectors.
  • Headings in the framework tool (slide 8 of the Power Point) have been designed, and are each weighted to provide a fair process – the weighting is specific to each heading and focused on recognising WHS regulatory skills and experience in their application that are more likely to be demonstrated by an internal applicant.
  • The tool has been trialed by inputting theoretical “test” cases to verify that it can be used to fairly assess an internal applicant against a range of theoretical external applicants.

In addition to the framework the VG are requesting:

  • Recruitment for SI/ASI’s will include candidates being assessed for inspectorial and regulatory skills, as is required with entry level inspectors.
  • Successful external candidates to be adequately assessed during the probationary period to ensure they have obtained the skill set to undertake the role
  • That a State Inspector/ Assistant State Inspector form part of the recruitment/assessment panel. An independent ASI/SI on a panel is better placed to assess a candidate’s suitability to the role than a non-inspector manager.
  • That external SI/ASI candidates make a declaration that they have adhered to codes of conduct and have no adverse records for conduct issues and that non-disclosure could affect their employment. (All internal applicants are subject to a conduct assessment of their record of employment within the organisation whereas external applicants are not held to the same rigour.) Note: This is to address an identified weakness in the system.
  • Clear definitions of “Conduct” and “Performance”, for consistency of application of these terms and to avoid differences in interpretation between recruiting People Leaders
  • Internal applicants should also to have ability to achieve required competencies for a role in the same time as external applicants (e.g. 12 months)

The framework matrix is a work in progress. If you wish to review the current draft, please see you VG executive representative.

The PSA consider this to be the first of many attempts to modify/attack our award conditions by the department simply going ahead and implementing changes as they see fit.

If the department are not called on these changes the inspectorate will be a much different place in the future!

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