CPSU Challenges Unenforceable Workplace Policies at DOE

If you were to visit your Employer’s Intranet, you would no doubt see dozens of workplace policies and procedures that have been written and published by your Department’s Human Resources Team. Some policies have been developed or updated through consultation with the CPSU membership, while others have not. 

Workplace policies are an important tool to help clarify and reinforce the standards expected of you in the workplace. These policies should be easy to read and understand, as well as regularly reviewed and updated. 

Workplace policies are only useful and enforceable where they are consistent with your industrial rights – such as the entitlements set out in the State Service Act 2000 and the Tasmanian State Service Award. Workplace policies cannot create rules that override your existing entitlements. 

So how do you know if your Employer’s policies and procedures are compliant with your rights and actually enforceable? If you’re a member of the CPSU, you can send workplace policies through to our Member Advice and Support Team at CPSUDirect@tas.cpsu.com.  

Our team of industrial experts can audit the policy and let you know whether it is compliant. We regularly find errors and can help Department’s correct their policies and forms. 

Another tip to look out for is checking there is consistency and fairness for all employees employed in your Department, regardless of their classification level or where they perform work.  

If your Employer is creating rules for one group of workers that is distinct from another, this needs to be thoroughly examined to ensure there is an industrial basis for the different treatment – otherwise it may lead to discrimination and disadvantage in the workplace. 

Recently, the CPSU reviewed the Department of Education’s ‘‘Application for Leave Without Pay’ form and found errors that you should know about. The CPSU wrote to the Department of Education about these matters two weeks ago. So far we have had no response. 

The CPSU has three main concerns about the ‘Application for Leave Without Pay’ form: 

  1. Firstly, the Department of Education form dealing with Leave Without Pay differentiated between employees who are ‘school-based’ and ‘non-school based’. 
    Leave without pay is governed by Regulation 22 of the State Service Regulations 2021 – which apply equally to every Tasmanian State Service employee regardless of their Agency or worksite. 
  1. Secondly, the Department of Education form imposed a restriction on the timing of making an application for leave without pay for school-based employees, with the form stating that an application must be provided and forwarded to Learning Services ‘a minimum of six weeks in advance of the planned commencement date’.  
    Regulation 22 places no such restriction on any employee who wishes to apply for leave without pay. 
  1. Thirdly, the form states that, ‘LWOP is a discretionary form of leave and not an automatic entitlement. It is considered on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the LWOP Policy’.  
    While this is true for an application under Regulation 22 Leave of absence with or without pay, it cannot be equally applied to circumstances where an employee under the personal leave triennium scheme opts to access personal leave without pay. We have sought confirmation that the Department of Education has a separate form or policy for workers on the personal leave triennium scheme who are accessing their accrued personal leave without pay balance.  

While leave without pay is a discretionary leave, meaning your Employer has the authority to grant on a case-by-case basis after considering your application and any operational requirements of your workplace, you should never be discouraged or prevented from making an application at any time during your employment with the Tasmanian Government. 

The CPSU are working to ensure that the same rules apply to any state service employee who applies for Leave Without Pay, regardless of whether you deliver public services in one of Tasmania’s 187 schools, or another public sector worksites such as a lab, prison or field centre. 

Natalie Jones

Lead Industrial Officer
Community & Public Sector Union SPSFT


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