Housing Contact Centre PSA/HCC July Consultation meeting
On 4 July 2018 the PSA was strongly represented by delegates and staff including the Departmental Committee Chair and Secretary and the PSA Assistant General Secretary Troy Wright together with the Housing organiser and industrial officer – to address issues previously raised on behalf of PSA members at the Housing Contact Centre.
In this Update:
- Conversion of Long Term Temporary Roles
- PSA win on probation and continuity
- Talent Pools
- HCC Compliance with Parental Leave Entitlements
- Temporary Employment Contracts
- Work Health and Safety
- Invite the PSA to Your Next Buzz Meeting
Issues raised with HCC Management on behalf of PSA members
Conversion of Long Term Temps to Ongoing Roles
The PSA was assured by HCC management that the next conversion of long term temps to ongoing roles would be reviewed at the end of the 2017/2018 financial year. Subject to Rule 12 of the Government Sector Employment (General) Rules 2014 the department may convert by undertaking a comparative assessment process, after external advertisement.
As members know, many of you are already compliant with Rule 12. Despite representations by the PSA the the HCC decided to externally advertise all ongoing roles, requiring our members to apply for ongoing roles in competition with external applicants.
The HCC recently advertised for 73 ongoing Client Service Officer roles and advised that the recruitment process will conclude in August 2018.
The PSA does not agree with this approach and will be continuing to advocate for our long term temporary members to be directly appointed.
Win on probation and continuity
HCC management communicated that our members currently operating as temporary contractors in these roles, if successful in gaining an ongoing role, would be subject to a 12 month probation period, loss of continuity of service and loss of accrued leave. The PSA strongly objected to this treatment of our members and presented that it does not comply with custom and practice. FACS senior IR personnel in attendance at the JCC agreed that this is not the correct approach and the PSA was given an undertaking that leave accrual would be acknowledged, continuity of service would be recognised and temporary contractors of 12 months plus would not be required to undertake a probation period; and those on contractors for under 12 months would be subject to a 6 month probation period only. The PSA will hold management accountable to this undertaking.
HCC management advised there are 130 long term temporary contractors employed by the department – 73 roles have been advertised and a further approx. 60 roles have coverage for those on leave or secondments. The PSA was assured that when the recruitment process is finalised in August, that the further 60 roles would be made available to current temporary contractors who may have been unsuccessful in gaining an ongoing role. The contract for these roles will be for the applicable duration of the secondment or leave period.
HCC management also stated that those not successful in gaining an ongoing role will be placed in a talent pool for up to 12 months and others considered for longer temporary contracts.
PSA WIN: HCC Forced to Comply with Parental Leave Entitlements
The PSA has pressed HCC management to comply with their parental leave obligations to grant all parental leave entitlements to HCC members. We are currently representing a number of individual members to access their right to return to their role after parental leave or if the role no longer exists, a role at grade. The culmination of representing members’ entitlements to parental leave ultimately resulted in a matter before the IRC.
The PSA has gathered evidence from members and delegates over a long period, in order to represent accurately the HCC’s unacceptable practice of ending a temporary employee’s contract coinciding with the last day of parental leave. The PSA advocated in the Commission that this practice is unlawful and discriminatory. Successful resolution of an unfair dismissal matter resulted in assurances from HCC management at the JCC that this practice would cease and our members will be afforded their full entitlements including access to 14 weeks employer paid parental leave (NSW), 18 weeks Federal Paid Parental Leave scheme (PPLS) and to return to work.
Temporary Employment Contracts
The Commission took a dim view of the HCC’s treatment of temporary contractors on parental leave and their denial of the right to return to work. In these proceedings the PSA drew attention to the poor form and administration of temporary employment contracts in general at the Housing Contact Centre. The Commission was unimpressed with the cited employment practices – in particular the verbal renewal of contracts for a 3 month or one month period based on the employees number of days of ‘unplanned leave.’ At the JCC, HCC management denied that the contract renewals were solely based on leave.
The requirement to rectify these practices has been addressed by the PSA at both peak level with the Deputy Secretary and as a discreet agenda item at the JCC.
HCC management communicated that they do not support the continuation of this practice.
If HCC does not clean up their contract practices the PSA will be taking further action on this issue.
The PSA asserted that management report on Workplace Health and Safety as a standing agenda item for all future JCC meetings – including a list of current Health and Safety representatives and data on recently reported incidents be provided.
The PSA raised concerns about not being consulted on changes to roster practices after being informed by members about changes such as individuals no longer having access to two consecutive days off.
When this was addressed at the JCC, the PSA was assured that this example likely applies to one or two individuals and that no systemic roster changes have been made. This lead to questions and concerns about the process of roster changes in general and which industrial instrument is being relied upon for changes to shift rosters at the HCC. The PSA requested clarification and a copy of the relevant industrial instrument be provided and that any roster review committee include PSA workplace delegate representation and consultation with the PSA. The HCC agreed to provide this and to address concerns of any individuals affected.
Invite the PSA to your next Buzz Meeting
The PSA organiser requested invitation to present at all future inductions and periodically attend buzz meetings. HCC management conveyed they are supportive of this and have subsequently made contact with the PSA to arrange it.
The PSA closed the JCC meeting conveying we seek a cooperative approach to workplace issues being resolved in a timely and constructive manner going forward.
We would like to acknowledge and thank the HCC workplace delegates for their hard work, commitment and efforts on behalf of PSA members at the HCC and to thank the DC delegates for their support.
If any of these issues are of concern to you, please contact the PSA for support and assistance.
Vivette Horrex – Organiser
Katy Ambler – Industrial Officer
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