Challenge for intelligence agency to offer work from home

By Jackson Graham

February 11, 2022

Many ACIC functions cannot be done at home. (royyimzy/Adobe)

A union survey claims Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission staff do not feel safe at work, with many of the functions the agency does unable to occur at home during the pandemic. 

But ACIC, an organisation of about 850 staff, says it is balancing maintaining office-based intelligence roles and functions with flexible working arrangements being available to some.  

The Community and Public Service Union says a recent survey of ACIC staff shows 70% feel unsafe at work. 

The union is pushing for a new risk assessment and greater access to work from home for staff similar to other agencies, such as the Department of Home Affairs. 

An ASIC spokesperson said the agency had allowed for individual staff and managers to offer flexible working arrangements to staff who may have health-related vulnerabilities or other specific concerns.

The agency says it is complying with health orders in states and territories and following the Australian Public Service Commission’s directions for agency heads to have responsibility for implementing COVID-19 related workforce decisions. 

“As an operational intelligence agency, many of the roles and functions of the ACIC are not able to be performed from home,” ACIC’s spokesperson said. 

“This includes many roles which have access to sensitive information or require staff to interact with the Australian community.” 

All staff at the agency are able to request flexible working arrangements, potentially including working from home. Other arrangements include staff working at home on limited days, a roster arrangement, split shifts or flexible working times, ACIC says. 

“ACIC has undertaken a number of risk assessments throughout the pandemic which have informed the working arrangements for staff. The ACIC continuously monitors the current environment, updates its risk assessments and takes steps to ensure a safe workplace for all employees,” the spokesperson said. 

The most recent Australian Public Service census showed 75% of ACIC staff believed that if they requested flexible working arrangements, the request would be given fair consideration. The number was six percentage points lower than other similar agencies.


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