Explanation of the proposed Enterprise Agreement

enterprise agreement 2016-19

Introduction

This document explains the terms of the proposed Commonwealth Members of Parliament Staff Enterprise Agreement 2016–2019 (the proposed EA) and the effect of those terms. If made, the proposed EA would replace the Commonwealth Members of Parliament Staff Enterprise Agreement 2012–2015 (the current EA).

The general approach taken by the Government during negotiations, which commenced in February this year, is to provide a fair and affordable remuneration increase for staff while maintaining existing conditions as much as possible. The proposed EA is required to comply with the Government’s Workplace Bargaining Policy 2015.

This document covers all major aspects of the proposed EA. Where an aspect has not been specifically covered, the proposed EA will continue the arrangements under the current EA.

Salary increase

The remuneration offer is as follows:

  • Two per cent increase in salary and allowances on commencement of the new EA.
  • Two per cent increase in salary and allowances one year after commencement.
  • Two per cent increase in salary and allowances two years after commencement.

The annual remuneration increases will apply to:

  • salary
  • parliamentary staff allowance
  • electorate staff allowance
  • private-plated vehicle allowance for senior staff
  • allowance paid to drivers of former Prime Ministers no longer in Parliament
  • corporate responsibility allowance.

Consultation arrangements

The proposed EA includes the model consultation clause for major workplace changes as set out in the Fair Work Regulations 2009.

For general consultation matters, the proposed EA provides for an Employee Consultative Group (ECG).  The detail of how the ECG is structured and will function will be set out in separate terms of reference for the ECG. The ECG will continue to be consulted on workplace issues and proposed changes to guidelines under the EA and will be available to meet as required.

Salary arrangements

There are no major changes to the way salary arrangements work.

  • Salaries continue to be paid fortnightly.
  • Salaries will be set by the employing Member upon commencement and can be increased, within the salary band, at any time.
  • The conditions for annual salary increments remain the same.

Retention payment

The one per cent annual retention payment continues. Eligible employees will be entitled to the payment at 19 June each year when the employee has been employed for the previous 12 months.

Superannuation

There are no changes to superannuation arrangements. Employees in the PSSap or a super fund under the superannuation guarantee arrangements continue to be guaranteed a minimum 15.4 per cent employer contribution.

Allowances

There are no major changes to any allowance arrangements. All allowances paid on a fortnightly basis will increase in line with salary increases.

Electorate staff allowance (ESA) and parliamentary staff allowance (PSA) continue to be available in compensation for additional hours of work.

A Member with an additional electorate officer position for a third official electorate office will be able to allocate up to 20 ESA levels. This reflects recent changes for electorates over 350,000km2. A Senator or Member with two offices will continue to have 18 levels and other Senators and Members will have 16levels of ESA to allocate.

Corporate responsibility allowance (CRA) will also be paid to Staff Assistance Officers - these are a small number of new roles that are expected to commence shortly. SAOs will be paid CRA on the same basis as other roles, such as First Aid Officers and WHS site officers.

Hours of work

The proposed EA will increase the ordinary hours of work for a full-time employee from 37.5 to 38 hours per week - six minutes per day. This one-off 1.3 per cent increase in work hours is offset by three annual salary increases of two per cent. Employees will continue to be paid electorate staff allowance and parliamentary staff allowance for their additional hours of work.

All leave balances will be adjusted with effect from the commencement of the proposed EA so that the equivalent balance of days or hours are available.

Time-off-in-lieu

TOIL continues to be available to eligible employees not receiving ESA or PSA. With the agreement of the employing Member, a full-time employee will accumulate TOIL once the employee works more than 38 hours in a week.

Leave and public holidays

Generally, leave arrangements in the proposed EA are the same as the current EA:

  • Annual leave – four weeks per year of service accruing daily.
  • Personal leave – 15 days accruing on commencement and on each anniversary.
  • Unpaid carer’s leave – two days available on each occasion when personal leave is unavailable.
  • Compassionate leave – two days paid leave on each occasion for illness or injury, three days paid leave following the death of a member of an employee’s immediate family or household or a friend.
  • Community service leave – paid leave for eligible community service activities.
  • Other leave and miscellaneous leave – available for the same reasons as miscellaneous leave under the current EA but now separated into two leave types to make the approval process more clear.
  • Long service leave – available in accordance with the Long Service Leave (Commonwealth Employees) Act 1976. .
  • Maternity leave – available in accordance with the Maternity Leave (Commonwealth Employees) Act 1973 with an additional four weeks under the EA.  Employees on paid maternity leave will continue to be paid in lieu if their employment is automatically terminated.
  • Adoption leave – 16 weeks.
  • Supporting partner leave – two weeks.
  • Leave without pay – granted with approval of the employing Member.

Stand-alone workplace relations training leave has been removed from the proposed EA and will be available as miscellaneous leave in the EA guidelines.

Employees may continue to access personal leave and paid miscellaneous leave for reasons relating to family or domestic violence through arrangements set out in the EA guidelines that have been in place since early 2013.

Conditions relating to public holidays remain the same. Employees, other than casual employees, will continue to receive a paid annual closedown between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

Prior service

A person returning to MOP(S) Act employment within six months following an automatic termination of employment or resignation in order to stand for election will be able to choose to pay back:

  • annual leave paid in lieu and have their previous annual leave balance re-established
  • severance and additional severance and have their prior service recognised for a future severance payment, or
  • both amounts and have their prior service recognised for all purposes.

Currently, employees have to pay back all of these amounts or nothing. The new arrangements provide more flexibility for employees who may have spent a portion of their earlier payout.

In the above circumstances previous service will continue to be recognised for long service leave, however, a payment in lieu of long service leave will no longer be able to be repaid in order to re-establish a long service leave credit on re-employment.

Other arrangements for the recognition of prior service are unchanged.

Travel arrangements

Travel arrangements, including travelling allowance (TA), motor vehicle allowance (MVA) and excess (Canberra) travel leave remain the same.

TA and MVA rates will continue to be based on rates determined by an independent organisation from time to time.

Learning and development

Access to learning and development opportunities remain the same:

  • Employees can still access up to five hours per week study leave and up to $10,000 reimbursement for study costs (pro rata for part-time employees).
  • The Professional Development Program will continue to be provided.
  • Ad hoc training opportunities continue to be available.

The reference in the current EA to computer systems training being provided by the Department has been removed as IT training is now the responsibility of the Presiding Officers and is available through arrangements separate to the EA.

Workplace assessment

Employees will continue to have access to assessments of work practices and equipment and may be provided with recommended equipment.

Flu vaccinations

Annual flu vaccinations will continue to be available.

Employee Assistance Program

The Employee Assistance Program will continue to provide employees with access to free professional counselling and other services.

Termination of employment

Notice periods, severance benefits, additional severance benefits and the career transition payment remain the same under the proposed EA.

Dispute resolution

Dispute resolution arrangements are unchanged. The clause is based on the model clause in the Fair Work Regulations 2009.

Simplification

The proposed EA has been simplified in a number of respects that have no impact on employees’ conditions of employment:

  • Introduction – this descriptive preamble has been removed.
  • Coverage clause – unions are not listed in this clause as this is of no legal effect. When the agreement is being approved, unions may apply to the Fair Work Commission to be covered by the agreement.
  • Work Health and Safety – some clauses relating to WHS have been removed as they replicated statutory provisions in the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and thus were of no effect.
  • Principles for workplace delegates – these have been removed as they were required under a previous bargaining policy and are not part of the current policy.
  • Throughout the new EA, some clauses have been amended to improve readability or clarity. These changes have no effect on the terms and conditions of employees.

Further information

Should you require additional information or further assistance in understanding the terms and effect of the proposed EA, please contact eacomment@finance.gov.au