US federal judge allows overtime pay case to proceed; Canada’s Indigenous training attendance sinks: management & workforce news in brief

By on 06/10/2022 | Updated on 06/10/2022
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US judge challenges regulation by letting federal employee overtime case proceed

A US federal judge has given the greenlight to a lawsuit brought by a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) employee in a bid to claim overtime payments for time spent on a professional training course.

The decision is at odds with federal regulations, which prohibit federal workers from receiving overtime pay related to entry-level training.

The FBI employee had moved internally to the role of intelligence analyst, which came with the requirement of an FBI Basic Field Training Course involving several activities outside of normal work hours. The plaintiff, who is anonymous, said they had worked more than a 40-hour work week as a result but that they were not compensated with overtime pay.

Read more: OPM grants US federal officials paid leave to vote in elections

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) administers the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for the federal workforce and is responsible for regulations that prohibit employees from claiming overtime pay for this kind of training.

The judge, Stephen S. Schwartz of the US court of federal claims, speaking in relation to another case involving a US Defense Department trainee in 2021, said he believed OPM’s regulations suggested inconsistency with the Labor Department’s regulations on the same issue of overtime compensation for entry-level training. That case ended with the government settling with the defense department employee.

“Once OPM permits overtime for training, excluding entry-level training is an arbitrary deviation from FLSA,” Schwartz said.

Daniel Rosenthal, an attorney representing the FBI employee in the latest case, said that the government is currently considering whether to seek permission to appeal Schwartz’s ruling that the lawsuit be heard. He said that if the case goes ahead, the aim is to secure back pay for his client, but that he hoped a decision in their favour would prompt OPM to reconsider the relevant regulations.

Nigeria’s civil service chief praised for digitalisation policy

The head of Nigeria’s civil service has received praise for implementing the federal government’s digitalisation policy to aid its processes.

A house of representatives committee on public service matters, led by chairman Sani Bala, commended Dr Folashade Yemi-Esan and her team for improving the quality of the government’s digital services.

One member of the committee, Beni Lar, emphasised the need for the country’s government processes to become fully digitalised in order to ensure all services run as efficiently and transparently as possible.

Dr Yemi-Esan highlighted her team’s implementation of a human resource component to the government’s integrated personnel and payroll information system (IPPIS). She said this modification had “detected [and] corrected a plethora of fraudulent cases pertaining to personnel records of civil servants”.

Read more: Public servants ‘fall flat’ on policy delivery, says Nigeria’s vice president

She added that a nationwide verification conducted through the same feature had detected a total of 1,618 officers whose letters of employment were found to be either fake or illegal, leading to the suspension from the platform of 874 of them.

A further 3,657 government workers were found to have not submitted their records, according to the Federal Civil Service Commission.

Canadian public service school reveals low participation rates for Indigenous training sessions

Fewer than 20% of Canadian public servants have attended training sessions on Indigenous cultural awareness and sensitivity offered through the Canada School of Public Service (CSPS).

The CSPS currently runs 15 different training sessions on the topic, as part of its Indigenous Training Series. The institution showed that the most-attended session, entitled ‘Reflecting on Cultural Bias: Indigenous Perspectives’, had taken in 51,430 participants as of June this year.

According to the Treasury Board of Canada, the federal government employed around 319,601 people in 2021, indicating that roughly 16% of Canadian public servants had attended the session.

Other sessions included ‘Taking Steps Towards Indigenous Reconciliation’, which saw less than 1% of the public service workforce participate.

Read more: Much more needed’ to combat racism and improve diversity in Canadian public service, says chief

It is currently a requirement for public servants in Indigenous Services Canada and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs to complete 15 hours of cultural learning each year. However, no government-wide directive for mandatory training on these topics exists currently.

Letitia Wells, a former federal employee who brought a class-action lawsuit against the federal public service for systemic discrimination, said the low participation rates were “disappointing, but not surprising”.

“Confronting racism when you are part of an organisation that has that very racism embedded as part of its culture is painful,” she said.

Read more: Canadian national security forces urged to mend race relations ‘marred by suspicion’

APS commission says diverse government workforce better at adapting to future challenges

Australian agencies that are diverse and inclusive will produce better policy and service delivery outcomes and are better positioned to address future challenges, according to an Australian Public Service Commission report titled ‘Our differences make us stronger’.

The inaugural report – which includes data from the Australian Public Service (APS) employee census, employment database, and agency surveys – provides a snapshot of diversity and inclusion in the public service with a view to driving improvements and enabling it to measure progress over time.

“The research is clear: diversity and inclusion is a powerful enabler of performance,” Peter Woolcott, Australian Public Service Commissioner, wrote.

“Workplace environments that demonstrate cultural integrity drive better policy development and service delivery outcomes, to better meet the needs of the Australian community.”

Read more: ‘The war for talent’: APS warns of challenges in attracting staff

Data featured in the report shows that 60.2% of the APS workforce are women, 3.5% are First Nations peoples, 4.1% have a disability, and 7.0% identify as LGBTQIA+.

While some of these proportions are roughly the same as in the Australian population as a whole and are increasing, the public service is falling down on representation in some areas. For example, while Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples made up 3.3% of the country’s population in 2016 as is reflected in the public service, 31.7% of the First Nations peoples working for government are at trainee level – far more than at any higher grade.

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About Jack Aldane

Jack is a British journalist, cartoonist and podcaster. He graduated from Heythrop College London in 2009 with a BA in philosophy, before living and working in China for three years as a freelance reporter. After training in financial journalism at City University from 2013 to 2014, Jack worked at Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters before moving into editing magazines on global trade and development finance. Shortly after editing opinion writing for UnHerd, he joined the independent think tank ResPublica, where he led a media campaign to change the health and safety requirements around asbestos in UK public buildings. As host and producer of The Booking Club podcast – a conversation series featuring prominent authors and commentators at their favourite restaurants – Jack continues to engage today’s most distinguished thinkers on the biggest problems pertaining to ideology and power in the 21st century. He joined Global Government Forum as its Senior Staff Writer and Community Co-ordinator in 2021.

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