Flexible by default: Cash foreshadows APS flex time reform

By Harley Dennett

March 9, 2016

Following New South Wales’ example, it seems the Australian Public Service will adopt a flexible-by-default approach to all roles.

Federal Employment Minister Michaelia Cash foreshadowed the APS human resources reforms in her address to the National Press Club on Wednesday — International Women’s Day.

“I’ve recently had a sneak preview of some of the policies and the ground-breaking initiatives that the APS are going to commit to, and there will be announcements in the coming weeks,” she said in her address.

“But what does it look like? Well, it looks like unconscious bias training is going to take place; we’re going to be conducting reviews of the recruitment processes; we’re going to be doing reporting on pay equity; and designing positions in the public service that are flexible by default wherever we can.”

Cash said she was looking at innovative employment policies in the private sector and was working closely with the Australian Public Service Commission on those ideas.

“… certainly, we need to lead by example.”

“Obviously there is department after department after department, and what’s good for one department is not necessarily going to be good for the next department. But certainly, we need to lead by example.”

Asked how achievable such reforms would be for the APS, Cash cited the example of Telstra, which introduced all-roles flexibility several years ago.

“You sort of are astounded … Telstra … how big is Telstra, how do you possibly introduce a policy that is all-roles flex given the size of your organisation? When you speak to Telstra about how did you do it, they say they basically just reversed the answer to the question,” she said.

“So when I come to you as an employee and you’re my manager, and I ask, request my role be performed flexibly, instead of automatically saying no, it can’t and I having to prove it can be, they just reversed that and the answer became: yes you can, unless I can prove otherwise.”

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