PSA Granted an Urgent Hearing in The South Australian Employment Tribunal Due to Misuse of the TVSP Process in the “student Experience Transformation” Restructure

03 June 2019

The Public Service Association (PSA) was contacted by numerous concerned members on 29 May 2019 who had received emails that morning from TAFE SA regarding TVSPs. These emails were suggesting an exit date of 7 June 2019, despite the fact consultation is still occurring about the proposed restructure. The revised version of the structure has not been provided to staff and the PSA has been given no information regarding workload assessments.

Providing an extremely short period for deciding about a TVSP is outside of the Department of Treasury and Finance (DTF) TVSP Guidelines and is not enough time for staff to seek financial advice and consider other factors before making a decision.

On 14 May 2019 the PSA took a dispute to the South Australian Employment Tribunal (SAET) about the poor consultation process. One of the outcomes of that conciliation conference was that the SAET agreed for the matter to remain open for six weeks, allowing either party to return if there were any further concerns.

The PSA has now contacted the SAET and requested an urgent conference be held to resolve an issue around TAFE SA’s Targeted Voluntary Separation Package (TVSP) process related to the proposed “Student Experience Transformation” Restructure. This conference has been listed for 5 June 2019.

The PSA contacted TAFE SA on 29 May 2019 to outline members’ concerns and requested FAFT SA withdraw these TVSP emails and provide staff with an adequate period to consider any offer.

TAFE SA responded on 30 May 2019, only agreeing to this process for those staff who had voiced concerns to the PSA and requested the PSA provide those names. Aside from the concerns around providing PSA members’ names to an employer, this response did not address the other concerns outlined below.

The PSA proposed the following counter proposal to TAFE SA, and requested a response by 11:00am Friday, 31 May 2019:

  • That TAFE SA issue an email to all staff who have received the emails in question, stating:
    •    they understand that some staff have expressed concern with the process.
    •    that in relation to staff who have signed the waiver and are definite that they wish to leave TAFE, the process will continue; and
    •    that in relation to staff who:
  •    felt the need to sign the waiver as if they didn't they wouldn't receive a TVSP offer; or
  •    those who did not sign as it was too short notice for them to fully consider their situation that the requirement for the employer to provide three weeks notice will apply, with the understanding that they can waive this notice period at anytime as per the DTF TVSP Guidelines; and that they will not be disadvantaged by this.

 

  •  In addition, the PSA is aware that dates on the "TVSP estimates", in some cases, pre-date the announcement of the proposed Restructure by around 6 weeks While this flags obvious concerns that TAFE SA knew who they wanted to "target", it also demonstrates that the calculations are flawed and do not provide an accurate reflection for those staff to consider. The PSA sought that these are updated and re-issued.
  •  TAFE SA censure its process reflects the DTF TVSP Guidelines.
  •  That TAFE SA do not proceed with any further emails of this sort, or any other formal offers of TVSPs other than those in this "round" referred to above, until genuine and good faith consultation regarding the proposed structure has completed.
  •  Finally, there are two outcomes from SAET that TAFE SA has not responded to that are part of this process:
    •    "The current expression of interests cut-off date for TVSP’s will be extended to 22 May 2019. Any TVSP’s acted upon after this date will be managed carefully having regard to work load issues."
    •    "TAFE SA to also consider concerns raised by the PSA and WSRs with Commissioner McMahon about the potential impact on staff workloads if the exiting of staff due to TVSPs occurs at the same time as the Semester Two Student Engagement activities, which commences on 14 June 2019 for approximately six weeks. TAFE SA must respond to the PSA accordingly."

      The PSA required TAFE SA to respond to those matters urgently, given that they have already commenced this process, in relation to those Units where discussions have occurred and/or emails have been sent in relation to staff exiting on 7 June 2019.


TAFE SA responded stating they would not accept the PSA's proposals. The PSA asserts that TAFE SA has not addressed the matters of concern. Given that resolution could not be achieved with TAFE SA, the PSA has contacted the SAET requesting an urgent conference be held to resolve this matter.

It is both disappointing and concerning that TAFE SA continue to flaunt the requirement for genuine and good faith consultation that was the subject of the PSA’s previous dispute in the SAET, as well as the processes put in place by the Government in relation to TVSPs.

The emails received by the concerned members stated that:

  • Consideration was currently being considered to offer the employee a TVSP with a proposed separation date of 7 June 2019.
  • The DTF TVSP Guidelines state that the employer is required to provide the employee with three weeks’ notice of a formal TVSP offer, but that due to the short period until the proposed separation date, should a formal offer be provided then the employee would not get that three weeks’ notice.
  • It was anticipated that those staff who do receive a formal offer would receive up to 1 week’s notice period to accept, even though the date given that the employee would have to accept that formal offer by was next Wednesday 5 June 2019 – less than one week – with an exit date of next Friday 7 June 2019.
  • A TVSP calculation estimate was attached.
  • If the employee was still interested in receiving a TVSP offer, they had to sign a form waiving the three week notice period and return it by close of business the day they received the email – a matter of hours.


When members contacted their Human Resource Business Partner for further information, they were advised that if they did not return the waiver form by 5:00pm, they would not receive an offer at all.

This raised serious concerns for members and the PSA as follows:

  •  Staff were feeling forced and coerced into signing the waiver form by 5:00pm, as they had been told if they did not, they would miss out on a formal TVSP offer.
  •  The DTF Guidelines state “Employees made an offer of a TVSP should be given at least 3 weeks to consider it. An employee may agree in writing to waive the 3 week consideration period.” This allows for the employee to make that choice; not for the employer to provide a short consideration period and then make staff feel pressured into signing a waiver.
  •  There was not enough time for members to get financial advice within a matter of hours regarding the “estimated” TVSP calculations so that the member could decide if they would still be interested in receiving a formal offer or not.
  •  Even if they did sign the waiver, and did receive a formal offer, they would only have an extremely short period – less than one week - to seek financial advice, discuss with their family, and make a decision, as they would have to accept a formal offer by next Wednesday 5 June 2019 and exit next Friday 7 June 2019.
  •  The proposed restructure is still in active consultation. TAFE SA has not returned to staff and the PSA with their “revised version” of the structure that they stated would be provided on or about 3 June 2019. (It is also noted that in the TDay issued to staff on 30 May 2019, it was stated that a further update would be provided regarding the proposed restructure on 7 June 2019.) The proposed separation date of 7 June 2019 therefore pre-empts this outcome.
  •  As noted in the PSA’s Information Update of 15 May 2019, one of the outcomes in the SAET was “TAFE SA to also consider concerns raised by the PSA and WSRs with Commissioner McMahon about the potential impact on staff workloads if the exiting of staff due to TVSPs occurs at the same time as the Semester Two Student Engagement activities, which commences on 14 June 2019 for approximately six weeks. TAFE SA must respond to the PSA accordingly.” The PSA has received no further information regarding this.
  •  Another outcome from the SAET was "The current expression of interests cut-off date for TVSP’s will be extended to 22 May 2019. Any TVSP’s acted upon after this date will be managed carefully having regard to work load issues." Members in some Business Units describe that they are already at full capacity with workloads and some staff have already been allocated to help with the Student Engagement activities so will be out of the Unit, yet a number of staff there have received these emails.



The PSA will provide a further update following the SAET hearing.

This remains a critical time for TAFE SA salaried staff. If you or your colleagues are not yet a members of the PSA, please take the opportunity to join. We need a strong and collective voice to continue to ensure that this process is fair and transparent and jobs and entitlements are protected.