DHS Finance and Business Services Review | Update and Our Next Steps

22 May 2020

This week we have been speaking with members about the review, what we know so far, what our rights are around a genuine consultation process and workplace changes, and what steps to take next to ensure that we are informed and have a genuine say in any new structure. Thank you to everyone who has been in touch with their initial concerns and feedback, and for participating in our PSA Zoom meeting. You are the expert in your work, which means that you are the best placed to understand the impacts on your work of any workplace changes.

To recap, we spoke about the steps we need to take to enforce our rights to genuine consultation in our Enterprise Agreement (EA), as well as other key industrial protections which are summarised below.

EA Clause 34: Consultative Processes
This clause defines consultation as the ‘sharing of information and exchange of views’ that includes a genuine opportunity for staff to contribute effectively to decision making processes and for the PSA to consult members. The clause requires management to consult with staff not just to advise what is going to happen. Crucially, this clause also states that changes cannot be implemented until and unless genuine consultation has taken place.

This means that we need to be proactive in requesting all the information that we need to form our assessment of the proposed changes, and to make our views and our concerns clear to management. We need to enforce our right to have these concerns, ideas, and questions properly addressed and included in the decision making process, before any changes take place which affect our working lives.

EA Clause 15: Workload Management
This clause of the EA provides protections from unreasonable workloads and requires that any “proposed review or proposed workforce change must include as part of the consultation and assessment of the potential impact on workloads for individual employees or a work group in a workplace and measures proposed to manage such impacts. The intent of managing impacts must be to minimise the risk of unreasonable workloads.’

Management have provided staff and the PSA with a workload impact assessment last week as part of their consultation. We encourage staff to carefully look through this document and assess whether you believe it properly reflects the work that is being undertaken by those positions, and whether the proposals to mitigate excessive workloads are adequate, realistic and sustainable. Is there anything missing? We want to make sure that any changes to the structure don’t end up placing more workload pressures on individuals or teams.

EA Appendix 1: Retraining, Redeployment and Redundancy
This clause outlines the process agencies must go through in order in order to manage staff who have their positions removed and are deemed as no longer being required during a restructure, including the possibility of declaring them excess. This process was hard won by the PSA and our members, and based on the principle of job security for public sector workers. Where a position is genuinely deemed as no longer being required, this clause outlines the process agencies must go through to assist the person in that role to find a suitable role within DHS or otherwise elsewhere in the public sector that is commensurate with their skills, experience, and maintains their classification level.

What members have said so far
Through the week and in our meeting members have raised important concerns about what we do know about management’s intentions for the proposed structure, as well as the process they have outlined for getting there.

These include, but are not limited to:

  •  The consultation process feels like it is being rushed and does not give us an adequate opportunity to genuinely contribute to them.
  •  We understand the review has been taking place for well over a year, with staff receiving no opportunity to contribute to or even be updated or informed of its findings.
  •  We now feel rushed to assess all the relevant information (some of which is inadequate or flawed) to form an assessment and provide feedback.
  •  There are problems with the current organisation structure that was given to us for comparison. It is not accurate and does not reflect the last updated structure.
  •  The role descriptions do not accurately reflect the work of staff. It is difficult to assess the impact of workloads or create a new structure if staff are not confident about what work is being done and by whom.
  •  We need to see and be assured the process of filling vacancies will be fair and transparent, and not subject to favouritism or bias.

What do we do next?
Members have made it clear that there is not enough information or time to properly assess the proposed new structure, nor genuinely contribute to it. Members have also talked about the importance of remaining informed and engaged as a collective including meeting regularly and making decisions together wherever possible.

We decided on the following next steps:

  •  The PSA will request from management more information and more time to consult with our members.
  •  Members will continue to provide their feedback to PSA Organiser Zerebar Karimi. We will collate questions, concerns, and ideas and other feedback to send to management on behalf of members
  •  We will keep each other informed and up to date. This includes regular updates from the PSA, and regular members meetings over Zoom/Teams. Look out for a meeting notice shortly for lunchtime next Tuesday, 26 May 2020.

We need to send a strong message to management that we are in this together and expect to have genuine input into the workplace structure.