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Performance analysis—strategic priority 2: Modernising the employment framework

Partner with agencies to achieve compliance with the Government’s bargaining policies

The Commission provided advice and support to agencies to enable them to make workplace relations arrangements consistent with the Government’s Workplace Bargaining Policy 2018. By providing thorough policy, legislative, drafting and best practice advice, the Commission was able to guide and assist agencies towards policy compliance.

Throughout 2018–19, the Commission supported agencies that were either negotiating new enterprise agreements with employees, or preparing for the agency head to issue a remuneration determination for annual wage increases under Section 24(1) of the Act.

Between 1 July 2018 and 30 June 2019 employees in the APS voted in favour of 40 enterprise agreements, and 25 agencies issued remuneration determinations in lieu of bargaining. All of these agreements and determinations were consistent with the Government’s Workplace Bargaining Policy 2018.

The Commission conducted regular forums with APS workplace relations practitioners to lead and facilitate discussion on issues arising in workplace bargaining. This included a refresher session on the Workplace Bargaining Policy 2018, attended by 46 practitioners from 29 agencies.

The Commission is committed to the ongoing improvement of the guidance provided to Commonwealth agencies regarding Government policy. A survey of agencies indicated:

  • 91 per cent of respondents found the responsiveness of advice and guidance to be ‘Very Good’ or ‘Good’, down from 96 per cent in 2017 – 2018
  • 87 per cent of respondents found the comprehensiveness of advice and guidance to be ‘Very Good’ or ‘Good’, up from 83 per cent in 2017 – 2018
  • 87 per cent of respondents found the clarity of advice and guidance to be ‘Very Good’ or ‘Good’, up from 83 per cent in 2017 – 2018, and
  • 91 per cent of respondents found the professionalism of staff to be ‘Very Good’ or ‘Good’. This is consistent with results from 2017 – 2018.

The survey also highlighted a small number of areas for improvement such as increasing the Commission’s understanding of non–APS agencies. The Commission will continue to pursue opportunities to improve in these areas.

Overall, the survey results demonstrate that agencies were satisfied with advice from the Commission on the policy and the bargaining process.

Work with and influence agencies to modernise the APS employment framework and practices

The Commission continued to review and update guidelines for agencies on improved, streamlined employment practices that can be implemented within the existing legislative framework. The Commission published new material on sharing the results of recent recruitment action for a similar vacancy (sharing merit lists), and on using one process to fill many roles (bulk recruitment).

Lead effective reform of the APS employment management policies

Following the support of the Secretaries Board in December 2018, the Commissioner now has greater visibility of SES officer movement and capability. Specifically, the Commissioner has advance notice of any intention to fill an SES Band 3 officer vacancy and agencies must provide the Commissioner with details of all SES officer recruitment outcomes. The requirement for agencies to review appropriate merit lists that may already exist as the result of recent recruitment action has been strengthened. Further, it is now mandatory that the Commissioner approves his representative on all SES officer selection panels.

This year, the Commission continued to explore options for streamlining the management of the Government’s cap on SES officer numbers.

Following consultation with the Secretaries Board, the Commissioner’s Directions 2016 were updated to include greater obligations for managers to support effective performance. The amendments explicitly set out the expectations that agencies proactively identify and develop high potential APS employees and engage in proactive career management conversations. The amendments also extend the responsibility for achieving and sustaining effective performance from agency heads to supervisors and employees. These amendments will assist agencies to maintain a high performance culture across the APS.

In consultation with Deputy Secretaries and agency representatives, the Commission also developed a guidance document to support agencies in meeting the intent of the amended Directions.