Changes to the working environment - Passage of legislative amendments  

Date published
23 October 2023
Statutory PWSS news

The Australian Government is committed to improving workplace behaviour and culture in our parliamentary workplaces. 

The Government is working to implement the recommendations made by the Australian Human Rights Commission’s, Set the Standard: Report on the Independent Review into Commonwealth Parliamentary Workplaces. 

Reforms to the working environment for federal parliamentarians and staff were endorsed by Parliament in September. These changes include establishing the statutory Parliamentary Workplace Support Service (PWSS) and modernising the employment framework for Members of Parliament (Staff) Act 1984 (MOP(S) Act) employees. 

These reforms directly affect the services available to you in employment related matters, and the way certain employment decisions may be made.  


What has changed?   

The PWSS  

Parliamentarians and staff can now seek advice and support from the PWSS about a broader scope of human resource matters.   

The PWSS commenced its new functions on 1 October 2023, with responsibilities covering:  

  • human resources (such as recruitment, performance matters and WHS) 
  • people support (such as case management and support services)  
  • complaint resolution 
  • policy development for the areas above 
  • education and training 
  • reviews, and  
  • monitoring, reviewing, evaluating and reporting on certain matters relating to diversity, culture, work health and safety, and performance of Commonwealth parliamentary workplaces and other matters relating to its functions.  

Payroll, matters related to the Enterprise Agreement and responsibility for the MOP(S) Act framework will remain with the Department of Finance. For example, Finance will continue to assist with:  

  • commencing security clearances for Ministerial staff   
  • the PBR Framework, property and COMCAR.  

Both the PWSS and the Department are working together to ensure the appropriate entity responds to enquiries from parliamentarians and staff.  

Work is also underway to develop a parliamentary services compass, a joint project between Finance, PWSS, DPS and IPEA which will connect you with the right organisation to help with your question or request.   

Amended MOPS Act  

Parliamentarians have new powers and duties under amendments to the MOP(S) Act. To increase the transparency and clarity of MOP(S) Act employment, the changes require parliamentarians to observe new requirements relating to recruitment, authorisation and termination of the employment of MOP(S) Act employees.   

Specifically, parliamentarians will need to:  

  • assess whether a person has the capability to perform a particular role, before employing them in the role  
  • be satisfied that any new authorisation of a person to carry out any of the parliamentarian’s functions or powers under the MOP(S) Act is appropriate before providing that authorisation  
  • consult with the PWSS and have regard to any advice provided by the PWSS, prior to making any decision to terminate the employment of a MOP(S) Act employee.   

Parliamentarians can also suspend employees where they consider this appropriate and will need to notify the PWSS if they do so.  

The current Enterprise Agreement will continue to operate. There is no need for any changes to be made to either authorisations made by parliamentarians before 17 October 2023 or MOP(S) employment contracts entered before 17 October 2023.  

Supports available   

Please be reassured that existing support services remain available to you. If you do not feel comfortable discussing any concerns arising from these changes with your employing parliamentarian or authorised officer, you may contact:  

  • Parliamentary Workplace Support Service (PWSS) - The PWSS is an independent HR and support service, which offers confidential HR advice and trauma-informed support which is available 24/7 for current or former MOP(S) Act staff and parliamentarians. The PWSS can be contacted on 1800 PH PWSS (1800 747 977), SMS to 0487 112 755 or on the PWSS website.      
  • Employee Assistance Provider (EAP) - The EAP provider, Benestar, is an independent, professional and confidential counselling service available to assist with work, life and health and wellbeing issues. EAP is available for MOP(S) employees and members of their household.  To make an appointment please call 1300 360 364. Further information about the EAP services can be found on the MaPS website.  
  • Ministerial and Parliamentary Services (MaPS) Helpdesk - MaPS within the Department of Finance can assist with pay and conditions including, salary, leave, and PEMS HR support as well as questions about expenses including claims processing, and PEMS Office support. You can contact the helpdesk on 02 6215 3333.  

Further information about free, confidential support and access to other services is available on the PWSS website.