Important Education Update – New Directives – Higher Duties Conversion, Hours of Work and WHS

Posted on October 2, 2020

We hope you are having a good week. Remember this coming weekend is a long one!

In exciting news late last week the Public Service Commission have issued new Directives in line with changes to the Public Service Act that went through Parliament in September.

One of these Directives – Directive 13/20 - lays out the process for converting employees who have been relieving above level or in 'higher duties' for more than 12 months.

This is an exciting development and something that union members have lobbied for - for a long time!

So how do you apply to have your role made permanent?

If you have a substantive role in the Department of Education, and you have been relieving above level or acting in 'higher duties' for more than 12 months you can apply. There is then a 28-day period in which a decision must be made.

In the Department of Education you should make application by emailing EmploymentReview@qed.qld.gov.au.

When emailing the Employment Review Team you should identify the following:

"In accordance with section 149C of the Public Service Act 2008, I request to be appointed to the position of (your ongoing position).

I have been seconded to and/or acted in this position for in excess of 12 months and have demonstrated the skills, knowledge and abilities required to undertake the duties of this role. My employee number is (your employee number)"

You may also want to identify what your substantive position is and if the role you are acting in is vacant/likely to be ongoing.

As part of the transition under the new legislation, if you have been acting in a higher duties role for 12 months or more you have until 14 December to request permanent appointment in your role rather than having to wait until your anniversary date.

Together will be able to assist and represent any members who have their applications refused.

It's important to note that this is a very similar process to the Temporary to Permanent conversions, so the same test of 'merit' – ie. performing the role successfully and being extended etc. is to be used.

Hours of Work

Together is continuing to escalate concerns about hours of work and that employees are being denied rights to accrue time and take at least one day off per month in breach of your Award conditions.

We are also extremely concerned that the Department have denied workers the opportunity to accrue time when working remotely due only to the location of work and not the volume of work.

If you have been advised that you can only accrue 15 minutes per day, or that you cannot accrue time at all please let us know ASAP so we can add your area to those identified in our dispute correspondence.

New Health and Safety Sub-Committee

Under our Department of Education Certified Agreement  we are re-establishing the Health, Safety and Wellbeing Sub-Committee. If you have matters you would like to raise as a member of the union please get in touch with us at education@together.org.au so we can put those issues on the Agenda.

You can see the Terms of Reference for the sub-committee here. The first meeting will be in the third week of Term 4, Wednesday 21 October.  

Reasonable Adjustment and Vulnerable Workers

We have received some concerning reports from some areas of the Department that there has been an expectation that ALL employees will physically return to the office at the end of this week. That is NOT the advice of the Chief Health Officer, the DG or the government position.

Where workers have been identified as 'vulnerable' and have provided medical advice the medical advice is the guidance to be followed. The Department have provided links to the 'vulnerable worker' forms regarding reasonable adjustment in a recent DG email.

While Queensland is doing really well in managing the COVID-19 pandemic unfortunately we are not out of the woods yet. We are all being guided by the health advice of our Chief Health Officer in this regard.

The Chief Health Officer is due to re-issue advice about the pandemic at the end of this week. It is not known yet what that advice will be. Vulnerable workers must abide by their medical advice and so must employers. Working remotely or other mitigation strategies are important reasonable adjustments to ensure everyone remains safe.

If you are concerned about advice you have received please contact our office on 1800 177 244 or your.union@together.org.au for advice and support.

Stay safe and well!

1800 177 244
members@together.org.au