Guidance Matters No.1, 30 March 2021
In this edition: Senior guidance officer award coverage | Guidance Officer Permanency Campaign update | Applying for permanency under Directive 13/20 – Appointing a Public Service Employee to a Higher Classification | Decision making process | How is the decision made by the department? | Travel time | WHS considerations for rural and remote car travel
Guidance Matters No.1 March 2021
Senior guidance officer award coverage
A key priority of the QTU is to progress the implementation of working conditions achieved for members in EB9 (schools). As previously communicated, the issue of award coverage for SGOs must be resolved by 30 June 2022.
To progress 4.3.2 of the certified agreement, the Certified Agreement Implementation Committee (CAIC) is working towards agreement between the QTU and DoE, with the purpose of allowing time for the award variation to be upheld in the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC). It is important to note that the timeframes are subject to the caseload of the QIRC at the time of progression.
The department has recently started informal discussions with the QTU about the award variation. These discussions are “without prejudice” and therefore the details cannot be shared with members at this point. The QTU is continuing to meet with the department in order to complete the transition by the end of the agreement. The QTU will provide further advice to SGOs once an agreement has been reached.
Guidance Officer Permanency Campaign update
The QTU is continuing to pursue the matter of increased permanency in guidance positions. It remains exceedingly difficult to get clear and clean data from the department in relation to inroads made, but progress has been made.
In Term 3 2020, using agreed protocols negotiated by the QTU with central office, active conversations occurred with regions with the intent of securing increased permanency. We do know that more than 30 guidance officers were made permanent in Term 3 or early Term 4 last year, many in the South East Region.
Many of the rural regions increased permanency, but they also have higher rates of permanent employment for GOs as a workforce pattern. Conversations did occur with North Coast and Metro. As Term 3 is peak time for relocations, the priority in Metro and North Coast was to facilitate relocations of permanent GOs seeking to return to the South East Corner.
The QTU is continuing to seek clean data on the number of permanent GOs statewide and by regions and the number of GOs in RAL or temporary engagements. In the meantime, the pathway to permanency for public service employees working in higher classifications has changed significantly with the introduction of the Public Service Directive 13/20. In the November Guidance Matters, the QTU foreshadowed what was known at the time about the new directive.
The changes embodied in Directive 13 provide guidance members with a process (and an underpinning industrial instrument) through which to request permanency in a higher position.
Applying for permanency under Directive 13/20 – Appointing a Public Service Employee to a Higher Classification
In accordance with s 5.3 of the PSC Directive 13/20—Appointing a Public Service Employee to a Higher Classification Level, an employee may make a request one year (12 months) after being seconded to or assuming the duties and responsibilities of the higher classification level. They may then apply each subsequent year they continue to be engaged in the higher classification level, provided they remain in the same role. The employee is also entitled to make an additional request in the event that their higher classification role becomes substantively vacant, pursuant to s 5.4 of the directive.
If you believe you are eligible to have your higher duties considered for conversion to a permanent position, then email the Department of Education’s Employment Review team at EmploymentReview@qed.qld.gov.au.
In your email request, please include:
- a statement to the effect of: “I am requesting, pursuant to s 149C of the PS Act and s 5 of the PSC Directive 13/20—Appointing a Public Service Employee to a Higher Classification Level, to have my higher duties converted to permanent.”
- your full name, and include any previous names
- your employee number
- your school, region, or business unit
- any submissions you wish to provide to the employment review team outlining why you believe you should have your higher classification role converted to permanent (a summary of your employment history in the guidance role, e.g. dates and locations, may be useful).
Please note, you are not required to provide submissions in support of your application. Your application will not be negatively impacted if you do not provide submissions.
Importantly, please read the email you receive back from the department carefully and take note of any timeframes provided. If you intend to appeal, you will need to act within the timeframes communicated. If you receive no email and you have the appropriate grounds for appeal, initiate an appeal. You will need to be aware of when 28 days have passed since you submitted your original request, as you will only have 21 days from that date to submit an appeal.
Decision making process
The department must make a decision within 28 days after receipt of the employee’s request. If a decision is not made within the 28 days, the employee’s engagement is said to continue under the terms of their existing higher duties arrangement.
As an employee participating in the process, you will only have an avenue to appeal a decision made by the employment review team if you have been engaged in your higher classification role for a period of two (2) years or more. There is no mechanism for appeal to the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission if you have been engaged in the higher classification role for less than two (2) years. Section 8 of the directive provides more information regarding appeal rights. ...back to top
How is the decision made by the department?
Step 1 – eligibility for review
To be eligible for appointment, performance of the duties and responsibilities at the higher classification level must have been in the same role, in the same agency for a continuous period of at least one year.
Step 2 – merit
To be permanently appointed to the higher classification, the employee must be eligible for appointment to the role having regard to the merit principle. Merit should only be a reason to refuse appointment where specific performance concerns have been raised in writing with the employee, and the employee has had an opportunity to address the concerns. There is no comparative assessment of merit against other employees. The merit of the employee for the role is the required consideration.
Step three – genuine operational requirements – section 149C(4A)(a)
The chief executive must have regard to the genuine operational requirements of the department. The decision-maker may consider the following when deciding whether there may be genuine operational requirements not to appoint the employee to the higher classification role.
- Is the role being performed substantively vacant?
- Is the employee engaged to fill a temporary need arising because another employee is absent for a known period?
- Is the employee predominantly required to perform work necessary to meet an unexpected short-term increase in workload (for example – an employee has been engaged to meet an unexpected increase in workload for disaster management and recovery)?
- Is the employee engaged to perform work for a particular project or purpose that has a known end date?
- Are there any other genuine operational requirements that are relevant to the decision about appointing the employee to the higher classification role?
Step four – reasons for decisions previously made – section 149C(4A)(b)
When deciding the request, the chief executive must have regard to the reasons for each decision previously made, or deemed to have been made, in relation to the employee during their continuous period of employment in the higher classification role.
For further information or assistance, contact the QTU at email@example.com.
The QTU has been fielding a number of queries in relation to travel time.
Guidance officers who service a number of schools should be based in the school nearest to their home. It should be noted that all travel beyond the time it would take the guidance officer to travel to their base school from their home is counted within rostered duty time.
Further, travel beyond the base school should be compensated for through a motor vehicle allowance (strong precedents have been established via dispute conferences in the Industrial Relations Commission).
Alternatively, guidance officers may choose to claim their travel as a deduction for income tax purposes. The Union would advise, however, that in general, and depending upon individual circumstances, claiming travel as a deduction from income earned does not deliver the same compensation benefit as claiming a direct reimbursement from the employer.
In some locations (usually rural areas) it may be appropriate for guidance officers to travel lengthy distances to service non-base schools. In cases where long distances require early starts and later finishes, travel and itinerary should be negotiated. The negotiations should explore the ability to extend the spread of hours (within the parameters of the award) to accommodate travel time, thereby facilitating earlier finishes/later commencement times at another time in the week.
The guidance officer can request access to a government car, as employees are not required to use their own vehicles for travel.
WHS considerations for rural and remote car travel
When assigning a guidance officer to travel in rural areas, the itinerary needs to consider reasonable travel time, including the impact of the time of the day, most particularly early morning and late afternoon. The department can provide guidance on WHS considerations in relation to travelling by car in rural and remote areas.
If you have concerns about driving expectations, consult the Department of Education’s Driver Safety Guide (2018). The guide has a pre and post safety checklist. Document your concerns and provide them to both your line manager and your supervising senior guidance officer. Any worker can request that a safety matter be tabled at a work health and safety committee meeting. Further, if you experience a near miss or an accident, it is important to document it as a WHS incident report on OnePortal MyHR WHS.
You can also seek assistance by speaking to the health and safety advisor (HSA) and/or the health and safety representative (HSR) at your base school/workplace and/or by contacting the QTU. ...back to top
Authorised by Kate Ruttiman, General Secretary, Queensland Teachers' Union
21 Graham Street, Milton, QLD, Australia, 4064