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Department of Premier and Cabinet

Chapter 2 - Supporting contemporary employment

In 2015-16 a number of initiatives focused on ensuring agencies are able to meet their current and future workforce management needs were progressed with support and guidance from agencies and stakeholders such as the public sector unions.

Examination of the State Service Employment Framework

One of the major initiatives in 2015-16 was the project to examine the current State Service Employment Framework and develop recommendations on how the Framework could be improved to ensure that State Service employment practices continue to be relevant, contemporary and enable agencies to respond to their workforce needs. The Examination project does not involve a review of the State Service Act 2000 or other supporting legislation, but focused on:

  • whether principle-based (minimal prescription) arrangements will add value;
  • how to ensure that merit and equal opportunity remain central to State Service decisions;
  • consideration of changing agency needs, particularly how to be flexible and adaptive; and
  • the accountability mechanisms for Heads of Agencies.

It is anticipated that the Examination project will continue throughout 2016-17.

Governance review

In 2015-16 a review of the State Service Amendment Act 2012 (the Amendment Act) was undertaken. The Amendment Act became effective in February 2013 and revised the governance arrangements for the Tasmanian State Service. The Act required that a review be undertaken after three years to consider whether the changes introduced in 2013, such as the abolition of the Office of the State Service Commissioner, the transition of some functions to the Tasmanian Industrial Commission, and the introduction of the Head of the State Service, have added value to the management of service-wide workforce management.

At 30 June 2016, the review had been substantially completed by SSMO, including considerable consultation with a broad range of stakeholders including the Integrity Commission, the Auditor-General, the Tasmanian Industrial Commission, Heads of Agencies and unions. It is anticipated that the review will be tabled in Parliament in the first half of 2016-17.

Reviewing and reissuing of elements of the Employment Framework

As part of its commitment to ensure that the Employment Framework remains relevant to the needs of agencies, some of the elements of the Framework, such as Employment Directions (EDs) and Practices, Procedures and Standards (PPSs) have been revised, re-issued or rescinded as noted below.*

In general, the changes made in 2015-16 have focused on reducing prescriptive arrangements and / or providing additional or clarified guidance to support Heads of Agencies to effectively manage their organisations.

Re-issued Employment Directions and Practices, Procedures and Standards

The following were re-issued in 2015-16:

  • Employment Direction No. 1 - Employment in the State Service (ED 1) in March 2016. Changes included the withdrawal of the requirement for agencies to advertise their vacancies in the printed Gazette, and altering Clauses 13 and 14 to enable Heads of Agencies to determine change of employment status cases.
  • Employment Direction No. 10 - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Tagged and Identified Positions s (ED 10) in June 2016. Changes include updating ED 10 to reflect the new eligibility requirements for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • Employment Direction No. 16 - Indemnity and Legal Assistance (ED 16) in January 2016. Changes include updating ED 16 to clarify relevant procedures.

When EDs and PPSs are issued or renewed, agencies are required to implement them within their workforce management policies and practices. Agencies indicated that they have reviewed or revised their policies and practices in light of the changes noted above. Changes to the above EDs occurred in consultation with agencies, and other stakeholders, such as the public sector unions, to support their successful implementation.

Revoked Employment Directions and Practices, Procedures and Standards

No EDs or PPSs were revoked in 2015-16

* Employment Directions relate to the administration of the State Service and employment matters relevant to the State Service Act 2000. Practices, Procedures and Standards are to guide agencies in relation to employment management matters.

Responding to external examinations and reports about State Service employment

In 2015-16, the Integrity Commission and Auditor-General released a number of reports relevant to the State Service.

In July 2015 the Auditor-General released a report on Absenteeism in the State Service. Overall the Report’s findings were fairly positive, and the audit did not find any concrete evidence to support the perception of an entitlement culture in the State Service. The Report also highlighted a number of areas for improvement.

In addition, the Integrity Commission released a Report into the receiving of gifts and benefits by State Service employees in September 2016, which included recommendations such as agencies raising awareness among employees of what is and is not appropriate behaviour, and where they can register gifts / benefits that are accepted.

The recommendations of these Reports are being considered and incorporated into whole-of-service and agency-level initiatives. For example, the Government will shortly release a whole-of-service Gifts and Benefits policy, which has been developed in consultation with the Integrity Commission and public sector unions.

Establishing peer-networks

Agencies have continued to advocate for forums where agency human resources and industrial representatives can share their ideas, knowledge and experiences, and work together to address shared workforce issues or problems. In response, SSMO has continued to support initiatives such as the Work Health Safety and Wellbeing Network, and the recently established Workforce Development and Industrial Relations Networks.

Since being established these groups have gathered regularly and provided agencies with the opportunity to present on their own projects / issues, and provided a platform for discussing whole-of-service initiatives.

Graduate Human Resources Program and Graduate Officer (Human Resources/Industrial Relations) Fixed-Term Employment Register

In 2015-16 SSMO worked with agencies on initiatives focused on attracting and building the capability of human resources and industrial relations employees.

One initiative was the establishment of the Graduate Officer (Human Resources/Industrial Relations) Fixed-Term Employment Register. This Register aims to support agencies to fill short-term, fixed-term graduate vacancies in human resources and industrial teams, as well as to provide valuable work experience for individuals interested in beginning a human resources/industrial relations career. The Register has led to the successful placements of a number of young people into agencies.

In addition, SSMO has worked with agencies to establish a whole-of-service Graduate Human Resources across the Service (HRXS) program to support program participants to build their knowledge and experience of State Service workforce management issues. In 2015-16 there were nine graduates participating in HRXS from agencies such as the Departments of Premier and Cabinet, Health and Human Services, Primary Industries, Parks Water and Environment, the Tasmanian Health Service and SSMO, based in Hobart, Launceston and Burnie. The two-year program covers governance, award negotiations, strategic Human Resources (HR) themes and hot topics. For example, participants visited the Tasmanian Industrial Commission. This was a great opportunity for the graduates to understand how the Commission process works.

HRXS participate in a workshop at the Tasmanian Industrial Commission

Photo: HRXS participate in a workshop at the Tasmanian Industrial Commission.

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