Loophole on public servants’ job security



The Palaszczuk Government has left itself a loophole to get out of hiring public servants full time despite proposing new laws to give workers more certainty, according to a union.

And it's angry public servants being investigated for wrongdoing can still be docked their pay.

The Australian Workers' Union says proposed legislation that would expressly require managers to consider putting on casuals and short-term contract staff as permanent employees after 12 months could easily be ignored.

Queensland AWU heavyweight Steve Baker. Picture: Mike Batterham
Queensland AWU heavyweight Steve Baker. Picture: Mike Batterham

Secretary Steve Baker said there were no appeal rights for staff who are passed over and the laws allowed the department to simply not respond to their request to begin with, weakening the government's aim.

"As there is no appeal right, departments can simply not respond within the 28 day assessment period and thus not be held accountable," he wrote to a parliamentary committee considering the matter.

"At the very least an appeal right should exist for employees who are not even provided with the courtesy of a response."

He said decisions about public sector employment "need to stand the test of scrutiny".

Mr Baker said the union - which represents health, youth detention, child safety, transport, main roads, disability and agriculture staff - also had concerns converted staff could have their hours docked.

"The current provisions in the Act do not stipulate the number of part time hours that have to be offered to a converted employee which has led to the situation where employees are offered less hours then those they have worked on a regular and systematic basis," he wrote.

"In some instances the number of hours is less than half the hours worked by the employee."

Public servants should have a right of appeal under proposed new laws, the AWU says.
Public servants should have a right of appeal under proposed new laws, the AWU says.

The AWU wants the Act to stipulate that the average number of hours worked over the past 12 months must be offered.

Mr Baker argued for provisions that already allow for employees under investigation for disciplinary breaches to be suspended without pay to be done away with.

"The loss of income has a significant impact on the employee and their family which can be devastating," he told the committee.

"Again, this penalty is imposed without a finding being made and thus is harsh particularly in the circumstances where no negative finding is made against the employee at the conclusion of the investigation."

He said paying an employee throughout would be an incentive for the department to complete its investigation quickly.

The committee is due to report back next week and the laws could be passed at the next September sitting of parliament.

Originally published as Loophole on public servants' job security