The Rockliff government is proposing changes to Employment Directions that will increase job insecurity. At a time when many areas are finding it hard to fill permanent jobs, the Rockliff government is proposing changes to have more fixed term jobs, for longer.
When COVID struck in 2020 the Government asked unions to support changes to the Employment Direction that controls employment in the State Service to allow agencies to fill fixed term jobs without any form of advertising for longer periods – from 6 months to 12 months. They argued that with the pandemic in full swing they needed greater flexibility to fill roles quickly and didn’t want the hassle of having to advertise the roles or call for expressions of interest.
The Government also asked for support to extend the maximum period a person could be appointed to a fixed term role from 36 months to 42 months – arguing they had workers near the end of a 36-month appointment, who they needed to keep working in the role, and they didn’t have time to review their employment status. Unions supported these changes for a brief period that was then extended to 31 August 2022.
The government has now written to unions to say they want to change the Employment Direction, so these changes apply permanently. They argue the changes have provided agencies with ‘significant efficiencies’.
The CPSU has indicated that we oppose the proposed changes. We have reminded the government that fairness in employment is a fundamental principle of State Service employment and there should be fewer circumstances where Agencies fill jobs without advertising, not more.
We also oppose the change that would allow longer fixed term arrangements. We face a recruitment and retention crisis across much of the State Service, meaning we can’t fill permanent positions. Trying to keep workers on fixed term contracts for longer is pointless as they will leave when permanent employment options arise, and projects will be left unfinished.
If the Government wants ‘significant efficiencies’ in its employment practices, it should implement the mobility register it agreed to in 2019 and was also the recommendation in the State Service Review in 2021.