26 September 2023

APS reforms put on back burner

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The Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) has announced it has put off its implementation planning of the Australian Public Service (APS) reform agenda.

The announcement came as the Government issued news of a six-month pause on pay increases for APS staff.

In an open letter to APS members, APS Commissioner Peter Woolcott and the Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Phil Gaetjens said the pandemic had “suddenly and radically” changed Australia.

“The APS has supported the Government to implement three unprecedented economic support packages and significant healthcare, child care and domestic violence support measures,” the Commissioner and Secretary wrote.

They said almost 5,000 APS staff were ready to support other Agencies through redeployment and more than 650 had already been seconded to Services Australia to answer calls for help and support Australians.

“The Government has decided now is not the time for pay increases, and so while the Public Service continues to deliver for the country, the decision has been made to pause pay rises across the APS,” they wrote.

“These are difficult times and it is clear we need every available resource to support our communities and our economy to respond to this pandemic.”

They said the lessons of the pandemic would be fundamental to the future of the APS.

“We are reforming in practice as we act to respond to COVID-19,” they wrote.

“For this reason, together with the Secretaries Board we have agreed to pause implementation planning of the APS reform agenda.”

The determination is to be in place for 12 months from its date of commencement, with increases to wages and salary-related allowances deferred by six months as they fall due.

They said the pause applied to enterprise agreements, individual flexibility arrangements, common law contracts and determinations made under the Public Service Act.

The pay rise pause follows the Government’s decision to impose a stay on increases in remuneration, entitlements and allowances for all Senior Executive Service (SES) officers.

The open letter can be accessed at this PS News link and notice of the pay increase freeze at this link.

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