Australian public servants receive 11.2% pay offer over three years

By on 03/09/2023 | Updated on 03/09/2023
A screengrab of Peter Riordan speaking in a Australian Public Service Commission video about APS-wide bargaining. Source: Australian Public Service Commission YouTube channel
A screengrab of Peter Riordan speaking in a Australian Public Service Commission video about APS-wide bargaining. Source: Australian Public Service Commission YouTube channel

Australian public servants have been offered a three-year deal to increase their pay over 11% after an initial pay offer was rejected by officials in June.

Public servants rejected a 10.5% pay offer in June in what the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) said didn’t address the “decade long attack on APS employees’ wages and conditions and the skyrocketing cost of living”.

Following a consultation on how to respond in government, Peter Riordan, the Australian Public Service Commission’s deputy commissioner and chief negotiator for APS bargaining published a new proposal of a 11.2% increase over three years, broken down into three payments: 4% in March 2024, followed by 3.8% in 2025 and 3.4% in 2026.

In a letter setting out the offer, Riordan said he had considered over 1,500 claims from employee bargaining representatives and had taken part in over 60 meetings “to ensure every claim was considered”.

APSC hails ‘significant improvements’ in offer

“You told me through the APS bargaining survey at the start of the year that pay, flexible working arrangements and leave are the matters that are most important to you,” Riordan wrote to public servants. “Through APS bargaining, I am able to offer significant improvements across all of these areas for APS employees.”

In addition to the proposed pay increase, the offer also set out equal entitlements for parental leave for both parents. The offer includes 18 weeks paid parental leave and the ability to take it at half pay for primary caregivers – which would be an increase in entitlement for 94 agencies – and eight weeks paid parental leave from the start of the enterprise agreements for secondary caregivers – that would then rise to 18 weeks by 2026-27. This would be an increase in entitlement for all APS agencies. The offer also removes all qualifying periods for paid parental leave, another new entitlement.

The offer also commits all Australian government agencies to “genuinely consider your flexible work requests, engage with you and approve these where possible” under new terms that recognise “that flexibility applies to all roles in the agency, and different types of flexible working arrangements may be suitable for different types of roles or circumstances”.

This could include job sharing or part-time work, and there will be no caps on the number of days officials can request to work from home – although the government stopped short of agreeing to a four day work week, a consideration Riordan rejected in July.

Read more: Australia’s public service commission rejects four-day week bid

The proposal will now be voted on by CPSU members, 86% of whom rejected the initial offer, after agency-level bargaining is complete.

‘Significant progress must be made’, say unions

Melissa Donnelly, CPSU national secretary said that the union would now “engage extensively with members across the APS on the detail of the package that has been negotiated, including on the pay offer, the pay equity mechanism, working conditions, and employee rights”.

She added: “Our members want to see improvements to their pay packets so that their salaries can start to catch up with the cost of living. But they also want to see those improvements so that their workplaces aren’t riddled with ongoing vacancies and unsafe workloads.

“After a decade of damage to the public service, significant progress can and must be made in this round of bargaining.”

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About Richard Johnstone

Richard Johnstone is the executive editor of Global Government Forum, where he helps to produce editorial analysis and insight for the title’s audience of public servants around the world. Before joining GGF, he spent nearly five years at UK-based title Civil Service World, latterly as acting editor, and has worked in public policy journalism throughout his career.

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