When former-Premier Peter Gutwein asked Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Sarah Bolt to undertake an independent review into the workplace culture of Tasmania’s Ministerial and Parliamentary Services (MPS) he was committed to ensuring that as the Employer, his workplaces were safe and modelled best practice employment. The CPSU is the union representing workers in the House of Assembly, Legislative Council, Legislative General. We also represent Catering Staff, Ministerial Drivers and Electorate Offices.
One of the major difficulties the Commissioner has had to grapple with is the numerous varying employment conditions and industrial instruments which apply to workers covered by the review. Some workers are appointed under different Acts, others are not appointed under an Act whatsoever. The result is zero consistency in the rights and obligations that apply to their employment.
The final report is currently being developed and will be publicly released later this year. This will be a significant opportunity for Tasmania’s political leaders to show us they are serious about tackling workplace discrimination, sexual harassment and bullying – and demonstrate their willingness to lead by example.
Today we have published the nine recommendations the CPSU made to the review.
Recommendation 1: The Tasmanian Government must establish and fund a Human Resources Team dedicated to supporting and advising all MPS employees, including those not directly appointed under the State Service Act 2000 and Parliamentary Privileges Act. A service beyond the provision of pay advice must be provided including assistance with inductions, complaints, and advising on workplace policies and employment conditions.
Recommendation 2: The Tasmanian Government must create, update and make available to all MPS staff policies on sexual harassment and bullying. We recommend the Employer implement these policies in consultation with workers and the CPSU.
Recommendation 3: The Tasmanian Government must conduct an immediate work health and safety audit of Electorate Offices, with due regard given to staffing levels, the results of which to be provided to employees, and funding for any recommendations made available.
Recommendation 4: The Tasmanian Government must introduce an annual anonymous staff well-being survey dealing with work environment, discrimination, sexual harassment, and bullying; similar to the survey conducted across Tasmanian Government Agencies.
Recommendation 5: The Tasmanian Government must negotiate with the CPSU and workers to create an industrial instrument setting minimum employment standards and entitlements for crown prerogative work arrangements. This instrument should detail employment conditions such as hours of work, salary increases, span of hours, meal breaks, leave entitlements, delegate rights, etc.
Recommendation 6: The Tasmanian Government must report on employment metrics regularly including staff attrition and absenteeism. This data should be provided to the relevant union/s so that industrial issues can be actively addressed.
Recommendation 7: The Tasmanian Government must introduce and fund externally provided mandatory training for parliamentarians and Managers about sexual harassment, workplace bullying and discrimination. Additionally, this training should be funded and provided to any worker who elects to undertake it.
Recommendation 8: The Tasmanian Government must unify and update parliamentary industrial instruments that have expired in negotiation with the CPSU to ensure employees are covered by all minimum employment conditions currently enjoyed by Tasmanian State Service employees.
Recommendation 9: The Tasmanian Government must express the rights of Union Delegates to be nominated by their colleagues and represent their interests, with equivalent rights to Union Delegates in the Tasmanian State Service.