Private sector workforce practices coming to APS later this month

By The Mandarin

April 4, 2016

By the end of April, Australian Public Service commissioner John Lloyd and federal ministers Mathias Cormann and Michaelia Cash will finally reveal the reforms designed to make government workforce more like the private sector.

Foreshadowed by Public Service Minister Michaelia Cash in her recent National Press Club Address, the date of the announcement is now scheduled for April 28.

Private sector director and consultant Sandra McPhee was commissioned last year to review workforce management in the APS, with particular emphasis on talent and performance management, recruitment, separation and staff mobility. Last week the Australian Public Service Commission described the review as “insights and ways to tap the full potential of a highly efficient, effective and citizen-centric workforce.”

The review has also been described as a “blueprint for creat­ing a mobile workforce that can move seamlessly between corporate Australia and the public service.”

Both Senator Cash and Lloyd have been vocal about government learning from private sector workforce practices since taking up their respective roles in 2015 and 2014.

“The review presents the public service with an exciting opportunity to remain­ ­at the pinnacle of service delivery,” Cash said. “Australia is renowned for having a world-class public service, though even the most effect­ive systems require constant modernisation to remain contemporary. It is imperative that the Australian Public Service is positioned to attract and challenge the very best people.”

Cash has praised Telstra and other corporate employers for adopting flexible-by-default approaches to all roles, and heavily hinted the same is coming to the APS.

“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 … 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.”

When the review was initially commissioned the government expected to have streamlined current employment conditions that are currently in awards, and instead have them moved into policy. However, many of the larger Commonwealth departments still have not voted up new agreements despite two years of negotiations.

The Community and Public Sector Union has been concerned those conditions and rights, once in policy and not an award, can be dumped by government at any time.


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