Public sector union pushes for working from home rights in EBAs

By Jackson Graham

Thursday November 18, 2021

The average employed Australian did 6.13 hours of unpaid work each week in 2021, an increase from 4.62 hours in 2019. 
The average employed Australian did 6.13 hours of unpaid work each week in 2021. (Image: Adobe/Rido)

The union representing public sector workers is pushing for working-from-home rights to be in enterprise bargaining agreements, amid numerous reports emerging that Australians are providing more overtime at home. 

A report by the Australia Institute revealed this week that Australians were on average providing eight full-time weeks of free work per year while working remotely. 

The average employed Australian did 6.13 hours of unpaid work each week in 2021, an increase from 4.62 hours in 2019. 

The institute says young Australians aged 18-29 are performing 8.17 hours of unpaid overtime — the most of any age group.

But CPSU national secretary Melissa Donnelly told The Mandarin that surveys had shown most APS employees had continued working regular hours during the pandemic, although some had urgent tasks related to pandemic response that increased their hours. 

She said that at Services Australia there were “enormous amounts of overtime worked”, most with overtime rates paid, but there was also staff — including many managers — asked to work many additional hours and not paid overtime. 

“It’s clear that the APS employees have been working harder and longer to deliver for our communities through this pandemic,” Donnelly said. 

“The union is having ongoing discussions with agencies and departments about the best way to support employees while working from home, including supervisors taking steps to ensure employees don’t work excessive hours.” 

She said the union had gleaned from research that employees wanted working-from-home rights included in EBAs, including protections against working excessive hours. 

“Updating enterprise agreements to reflect this important change in the way we work needs to be the next step for the APS,” Donnelly said. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic saw the APS deliver harder and longer to the Australian community.  These efforts should be recognised and rewarded by government with fair pay rises that keep up with cost of living.”


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