- The Guardian
- Issue #2062
Photo: Teona Swift – pexels.com CC
The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) has claimed a win in service-wide Australian Public Service (APS) bargaining after locking in significant improvements to flexible working arrangements, including working from home. The union has achieved agreement with the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) on:
- Rights for all APS employees – all APS employees will be able to make a request for a flexible working arrangement, including working from home.
- No caps – the APSC has agreed to the CPSU claim for no caps to be imposed on the number of days they can work from home in a week.
- A bias towards YES – agencies required to lean towards approving requests.
- Refusal in certain circumstances only – agencies will only be able to refuse requests after genuinely trying to reach agreement, considering the employee’s circumstances, and only if there are clear business reasons not to approve.
- Independent umpire oversight – if an agency doesn’t genuinely try to reach agreement and follow the required steps for considering requests, the CPSU can support members to resolve the issue with their agency, and where necessary, the decision can be challenged in the Fair Work Commission.
- Roles performed in wider locations – enterprise agreements will acknowledge the benefits of flexible work to facilitate APS capability and work being performed in a wider range of locations across Australia.
- Agencies to consider connection to country – when First Nations employees make a flexible work request, the agency will be required to consider connection to country and cultural obligations.
- Ad hoc requests – employees will be able to make ad hoc requests for one-off or short-term circumstances.
- Strong protections – employees will have protections against flexible working arrangements being terminated without genuine negotiation with employees.
The rights secured by the union and its members will establish the APS as a leader on flexible work and see it make progress towards its goal of becoming a model employer.
If the APSC and the government intend to continue their pursuit of the “model employer” label, the union believes that the next steps in bargaining must see much better pay and pay equity proposals tabled.
Melissa Donnelly, CPSU National Secretary said ground breaking flexible work and working from home rights have been secured in negotiations between the union and the APSC.
“These significantly improved and enforceable flexible work rights will open doors for individuals who were previously unable to consider APS employment, or had to leave because of a change in circumstances.
“The traditional approach to APS work has hindered the attraction and retention of staff across the Service. Flexibility in how, when and where public sector work is done will see the APS become increasingly diverse, adaptable and accessible.”
Donnelly said this is good news for public servants, public services, public policy, and the public.
“We commend the APS for recognising the importance of flexible work, and the importance of consistent application across agencies. By embracing this opportunity and becoming a leader in workplace flexibility, the APSC and the government have taken meaningful steps towards establishing the APS as a model employer.
“The CPSU has been pleased to see the APSC unafraid to make bold progress and hopes they see the value in continuing to do so.
“We will be continuing to push the APSC for significantly improved pay and pay equity proposals.”