Vic government launches flexible work policy for public servants

By Shannon Jenkins

Tuesday March 23, 2021

parliament house victoria
James Merlino, Martin Foley, Lisa Neville and Martin Pakula have resigned their positions as frontbenchers in the Victorian state government. (Image: Adobe/FiledIMAGE)

The Victorian government has launched a revised flexible work policy for state public service employees, and has revealed more staff will able to return to offices in the CBD and suburban areas.

In announcing the new policy on Tuesday, government services minister Danny Pearson said full-time office-based Victorian Public Service employees would return to their offices for three days a week.

“Returning to workplaces in greater numbers across the Melbourne CBD, suburbs and regional Victorian locations will provide a critical boost to Victoria’s social and economic recovery,” Pearson said.

“This will directly help local businesses that service CBD, suburban and regional workplaces.”

The initial position of three days a week in the office — which may change depending on the advice of the chief health officer — “strikes the right balance” between supporting Melbourne’s CBD while ensuring suburban and regional areas don’t lose all the benefits of having VPS staff working remotely, the government said.

The new policy, which replaces the ‘all roles flex’ policy, aims to support greater participation by a broader range of Victorians in the VPS, including workers with disabilities, caring responsibilities, and those living outside of urban centres.

“Flexible work helps employees balance paid work with other demands … Flexible work must not undermine career progression, pay or development opportunities,” it said.

Flexible work must align with the VPS commitment to improve outcomes for the community, the policy said. This means that, while “managers must work with their employees and team to come up with solutions that work for everyone”, flexible work arrangements must not reduce the level of service delivery to the public, and shouldn’t “negatively impact the achievement of your team and organisation’s objectives”.

There are nearly 50,000 VPS employees, with roughly 60% of them employed in the CBD, and the remainder split between Metro Melbourne, the suburbs and regional Victoria.

Pearson has also announced that the state government will spend $20 million to rollout five ‘suburban government hubs’. The hubs will be able to house up to 2,380 public servants a week, allowing them to work closer to home.

The first hub is up and running in Footscray. More of these centres will be opened in Williams Landing and Mulgrave by June 30, with the locations of two more yet to be announced.

Regional facilities for government employees, named GovHubs, are currently being developed in Ballarat, Latrobe Valley and Bendigo.

In a recent article for The Mandarin, VPS commissioner Adam Fennessy and Victorian equal opportunity and human rights commissioner Kristen Hilton noted that the new flexible work policy “enshrines the principle that flexibility is available to all employees, regardless of why they need it”.

“The new flexible work policy is designed to normalise flexible work in Victorian Public Service workplaces. It obliges managers to make flexible work arrangements work for each team, employee and workplace, noting that not all types of flexibility will work for all roles,” they wrote.

READ MORE: Flexible work arrangements could advance gender equality


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