The merit principle is dual faceted
in nature - demanding Agencies make the best use of human resources
by filling vacancies with the most suitable available person,
and ensuring employees are guaranteed that appointment or promotion
will be on the basis of suitability, assessed in a fair, equitable
and non-discriminatory fashion. It demands not only that the
most suitable person be chosen from the field of applicants, but
also that the field be the best that can be assembled under the
prevailing circumstances, free of any artificial or contrived
It is important to note that a necessary precondition for effective implementation of the merit principle is that individuals be afforded the same opportunity to compete fairly and equitably for selection, appointment or promotion solely on the basis of their capacity to further the objectives of the Service through the performance of the duties assigned to the position for which they are competing.
I am pleased to report that the Managing
Diversity Policy Guidelines for Agencies (http://www.dpac.tas.gov.au/divisions/ep/md/)
were released in October 1998. The guidelines were issued
under the Tasmanian State Service Act 1984 section 10(1)(b)
and include sections on:
These guidelines are the culmination of extensive work in the area of Managing Diversity. They are and will continue to play an important role in the overall task of eliminating discrimination and harassment in the workplace. The guidelines support outcomes 1 and 4 of the Changing Workplace Behaviour (CWB) Management Plan (http://www.dpac.tas.gov.au/divisions/ep/harass.htm), which was launched in May 1997. This plan continues to be implemented successfully.
The majority of Agencies have either
completed the required actions or have made significant progress
towards developing strategies to achieve outcomes. There are regular
reports to Cabinet which detail achievements of Agencies in relation
to the targets set in the Plan.
The Plan and Guidelines were designed
to assist Agencies, their executives and managers to put in place
policies and practical programs to minimise and eventually remove
the occurrence of all forms of discrimination, workplace harassment
and other inappropriate behaviours. Some Agencies have already
included sections from the Guidelines in Agency Human Resource
Manuals, further supporting the change of organisational culture
required for the effective management of diversity in the workplace.
To support the release of the Guidelines,
a replacement Employment Instruction (EI) was issued. EI 98/2
- Managing Diversity directly supports outcome 1 of the CWB Management
Plan and further promotes Managing Diversity principles into Tasmanian
State Service employment policy and practices.
To oversee the implementation of
the CWB Management Plan a Peak Body, which I chair, was established
in 1997. The Peak Body consists of senior level Agency representatives
and its purpose is to coordinate the implementation of the Plan.
The Peak Body originally established
five sub-committees namely,
The Legislative Review sub-committee
was disbanded due to its terms of reference being achieved. With
the change of Government in September 1998 there was a review
of the Terms of Reference for the Peak Body and Sub-Committees
to ensure alignment with the new Government's policy platform.
From this review the following changes were forwarded to and approved
The Peak Body met in May 1999 to
discuss the new terms of reference, receive reports from the sub-committees
and discuss the formation of the new Youth Employment sub-committee.
The Aboriginal Employment Policy
Guidelines were released in October 1998 (http://www.dpac.tas.gov.au/divisions/ep/ae/).
These Policy Guidelines were developed in consultation with the
Office of Aboriginal Affairs (OAA). The OAA implements the Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander Employment and Career Development Strategy.
This strategy is a joint Federal and State funded initiative.
The guidelines are designed to assist
Agencies in the recruitment process for Aboriginal Identified
positions. Positions that are "identified" or "tagged"
have essential requirements that need to be met before these positions
can be filled. The guidelines outline the process for determining
position type, recruitment including methods of establishing a
claim of eligibility and grievance procedures. There have been
two reviews held in relation to a decision of eligibility. These
have been conducted in accordance with the grievance procedure
outlined in the guidelines.
The two reviews of decisions by the Office of Aboriginal Affairs not to include applicants on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Temporary Employment Register, due to the applicant's inability to prove Aboriginality, were upheld in both cases.
The principal statutory functions
of the Commissioner which I exercise in relation to the observance
of the merit principle are specified in Section 10 of the Act
The statutory functions are performed
by determining appropriate practices and procedures in relation
As Commissioner I am responsible for keeping a record of all permanent employees by age, date of employment, position, classification and salary. I may also review and make recommendations to the Minister administering the Act on the levels of permanent and temporary employment in the Service or in any Agency.
The principal powers of the Commissioner
are set out in Section 11 of the Act as follows:
There was one Service-wide Employment
Instruction (EI) issued this year. EI 98/2 was created to facilitate
the Changing Workplace Behaviour (CWB) Management Plan outcome
number 1 and support the release of the Managing Diversity Policy
Guidelines. This EI replaces EI 94/1.
The key change put in place by the
new EI is that the focus of the State Service should be on Managing
Diversity rather than either equal employment opportunity or affirmative
I quote from the EI:
The other significant changes are:
Employment Instruction 98/2 includes a simplification of the Annual Reporting requirements for Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO). It requires Heads of Agency to include, as a minimum:
I hope this will assist Agencies
to further improve the level and detail of EEO reporting in the
future and more accurately determine how the State Service is
progressing towards the achievement of Managing Diversity outcomes.
At the Managing Diversity Peak Body committee meeting held in May 1999 it was resolved that a sub-committee be created to investigate presenting a Managing Diversity Award to an Agency that has outstanding performance in this area.
Due to the change of Government in
September 1998 Agencies underwent substantial restructuring. This
restructuring has resulted in the approval of a large number of
Agencies undertaking restructuring
sought the assistance of my Office in developing guidelines for
their restructuring. Processes were developed that minimised,
not only administrative arrangements but also costs to Government.
I am satisfied that the application
of merit in these type of processes are safeguarded. My Office,
in conjunction with Agencies will ensure that the tests of merit
are met in all the circumstances that Direct Selection is used.
Table 1 indicates the number of direct selections for each agency for the financial years ending 30 June.
TABLE 1: Direct Selection totals
for each Agency for the financial years ending the 30 June (Note - For 1997 and 1998 the previous State Service Agency structure has been converted to the current Agency structure for comparison purposes):
I continue to make recommendations
to the Premier for the conversion of employees from Temporary
to Permanent. Conversions are only made at the "base grade"
level and only after it can be demonstrated that a merit process
was used to originally employ the person.
My Office provided assistance to
the Department of Health and Human Services to develop a strategy
to address the issue of temporary employment. The Agency has
developed and will implement specific guidelines on temporary
employment that will eliminate previous untenable practices.
As part of the exercise a considerable number of employees were
identified as being eligible for conversion from temporary to
While there has been a reduction
in the number of temporary employees over the past twelve months,
it must be pointed out that there will always exist the need for
temporary employment in an organisation of the size and diversity
of the State Service.
Table 2 indicates the number of conversions
for each agency for the financial years ending 30 June.
TABLE 2: Conversions to Permanency
totals for each Agency for the financial years ending the 30 June (Note - For 1997 and 1998 the previous State Service Agency structure has been converted to the current Agency structure for comparison purposes):
My Office continues to give advice
and assistance to Agencies with the establishment of temporary
employment registers. The use of registers is increasing. Employment
registers are particularly advantageous for Agencies in circumstances
where there is a history of high turnover or in areas where recruitment
is difficult, for example, specialist functions.
The review of the operation of temporary
employment registers in light of the recent Federal Government's
move to the Job Network was completed. At the 30 June 1999 the
review recommendations are to be included in a revised Employment
Section 48 of the Act establishes
the Redeployment Register of names of permanent employees who,
for reasons prescribed in Section 47 of the Act, have been declared
by the Head of Agency to be surplus to the requirements of that
An employee can be listed on the
Register for a period of up to 12 months following exhaustion
of the relevant appeal provisions.
The Commissioner may transfer an
employee on the Redeployment Register to any vacant position which
a Head of Agency is seeking to fill and the duties of which the
Commissioner considers the employee capable and competent to perform.
Such a position must have a classification or salary level similar
to that of the position last permanently occupied by that employee.
If, at the expiration of 12 months
from the date of registration on the Redeployment Register an
employee has not been transferred, or otherwise had their name
removed from the Register, then the Act requires that the Commissioner
advise the Head of Agency who must call on the employee to resign
or retire from the State Service or be subject to dismissal.
The process of job matching is carried
out in conjunction with the Division of Employment Policy of the
Department of Premier and Cabinet (DEP) which circulates a Register
of employees names to Agencies who consider those listed before
advertising vacancies. In addition, the proof copy of the State
Services Notices Section of the Tasmanian Government Gazette is
scrutinised prior to publication for vacancies that Agencies may
have overlooked. In such cases, the Agency is contacted and the
matter considered before the Gazette is published.
This year I have transferred two
employees who were declared surplus to the requirements of Agencies.
I would like to express my appreciation for the cooperation displayed
by those Agencies to which I have transferred these employees.
The Government's policy on redundancies
has meant that redeployment is the preferred mechanism for dealing
with surplus staff. To assist this process the Tasmanian State
Service Redeployment Strategy was developed by DEP to assist in
the redeployment of excess Department of Health and Human Services
employees. It is understood that other Agencies have expressed
interest in utilising the strategy.
The Commissioner may receive a report
from the Retirement Benefits Fund (RBF) Board stating that the
Board is of the opinion that the health of an invalidity pensioner
is so restored to enable that person to perform the duties of
any office or position. The Commissioner may then take such action
as is considered reasonable and practicable to identify a vacant
position in the State Service in which the person would be capable
of satisfactorily performing.
After notification by the RBF Board, the process of job matching is carried out in conjunction with DEP in the same manner as elaborated in Section 10 of this report.
TABLE 3: Number of former invalidity pensioners as at the 30 June on the financial years shown:
The increase in 1999 was the result
of a review of the priority placement register process as part
of the development of the Tasmanian State Service Redeployment
The steady increase in former invalidity
pensioners suggests that Agencies still do not fully appreciate
their responsibilities in this area. The placement of employees
back into the workforce continues to prove difficult with the
number of invalidity pensioners still awaiting placement, following
their restoration to good health, continuing to grow.
Part IX of the Act establishes a
comprehensive code for the conduct of disciplinary procedures
in relation to permanent employees who may have committed offences
as defined in Section 54 of the Act. The provisions of the code
are generally consistent with procedures established in the Commonwealth
and other State Public Services, and with decisions of the courts
relating to administrative law matters and the rules of natural
In the 1998-99 year, I received six
requests from a Head of Agency for the appointment of a person
to conduct an Inquiry following the charging of a permanent employee.
In each case I appointed an Inquirer. As at 30 June 1999 five
of the six Inquiries had been completed.
In two inquiries the Inquirer found
that there was substance in all charges laid. The action taken
by the Head of Agency in relation to the recommendations of the
Inquirer was counselling in both cases. There were two Inquiries
where the Inquirer found that there was substance in some of the
charges laid by the Head of Agency and this resulted in the Head
of Agency taking the action of counselling and in one case transferring
the employee to another position. One employee resigned before
the Inquiry started and one Inquiry is continuing.
Part VIII of the Act establishes
a comprehensive code for the conduct of inability procedures concerning
permanent employees who the Head of Agency believes are unable
to discharge their duties in the best interests of the State.
The provisions of the code are generally consistent with procedures
established in the Commonwealth and other State Public Services,
and with decisions of the courts relating to administrative law
matters and the rules of procedural fairness/natural justice.
In the 1998-99 year, I received three
requests from three Heads of Agency for the appointment of a person
to conduct an Inquiry following the Head of Agency forming a view
that a permanent employee was not able to perform their duties.
I appointed Inquirers from outside the State Service in all cases.
In one case the Inquirer substantiated none of the claims by the
Head of Agency in relation to inability. In another case the inquiry
did not proceed due to an alternative course of action being agreed
upon and in the third case the Inquiry is continuing.
The Office continued to provide a consultancy service to Agencies throughout the year. The service ranged from answers to enquires over the telephone or in writing, to planned visits to Agencies. The Office continues to receive positive feedback from Agencies on those matters for which advice was provided.
State Service employment statistics,
information and comment is attached as Appendix 1.
Administrative support is supplied
by staff in the Division of Employment Policy in the Department
of Premier and Cabinet.
Both the outgoing Commissioner, Mr
Michael Stevens, and I would like to thank the staff in my Office
and the Division of Employment Policy for their support.
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