APSC rejections leave model employer commitment in doubt


The Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) has disappointingly rejected several proposals put forward by the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU), including disability leave and gender affirmation leave.

These recent rejections have raised questions regarding the Albanese Labor Government’s commitment to becoming a model employer.

The CPSU claim for 10 days of disability leave recognises that people with disability have a range of medical and other appointments and are often unfairly forced to access sick leave for reasons relating to disability. This leaves them in a precarious situation should they need to access sick leave for its intended purpose. A comparable entitlement is already available in the ACT Government and Tasmanian Public Service.

The CPSU claim for gender affirmation leave would build on existing entitlements in the Victorian Public Service, Northern Territory, Tasmanian Public Service and ACT government. It would also place the APS on a more even playing field with the myriad of private sector employers that already offer this entitlement.

The APSC also rejected the union’s bid to make agencies support regional APS employment and avoid office closures, and a proposal that would allow agencies to trial a four-day working week. The four-day working week was rejected on the basis that the APS will watch developments and emerging research in this area.

Negotiations on these matters are not over, but the APSC’s current response stands in stark contrast to goals that were laid out by the Federal Government. The union is urging the APSC to revisit the matters ahead of further negotiations.

Quotes attributable to Melissa Donnelly, CPSU National Secretary:

“The Albanese Labor Government has consistently touted its commitment to becoming a model employer, but the rejection of proposals that are directly linked to diversity undermine that.

“The rejection would also leave the APS behind the eight ball as the private sector and state public sectors continue to make progress.

“Union members are understandably surprised and deeply disappointed by their employer’s unwillingness to work with the union foster a more inclusive and diverse APS in these important areas.

“CPSU members poured a great deal of time and effort into the development of our disability leave claim. This response from their employer will be particularly disappointing for them.

“The APS could be an employer of choice for people with a disability. But failure to provide disability leave, which is available in other state public sector workplaces, sidelines that and the opportunities that come with it.

“Gender Affirmation leave is another emerging entitlement in enterprise agreements, already available across many state and territory public sectors and more widely in the private sector. The APSC’s unwillingness to come to the table on Gender Affirmation will leave them behind many other employers who have already made significant progress in this area.

“We urge the Federal Government to reconsider these decisions, and we will be continuing to work with our members to deliver a better outcome for them and the APS.

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