The New South Wales State Government passed the Government Sector Employment Act 2013 and the Members of Parliament Staff Act 2013 earlier this week. The former act is a comprehensive rewrite and replacement of the existing Public Sector Employment and Management Act 2002 (NSW) while the latter act creates separate employment legislation for the staff of political office holders.
The Government Sector Employment Act 2013 will set out to simplify the statutory arrangements and shift much of the substance and detail of public sector employment provisions into regulations and other statutory instruments. With this effort, the act will diminish the role of the Parliament in overseeing public sector administration while leaving most of the details in the hands of the Executive Government. Furthermore, the act removes existing legislative protections and expands the grounds for termination in section 47. Employees may now be terminated for failing to meet the conditions of engagement as imposed by section 44.
The act also removes access to the Industrial Relations Commission and Award system for senior officers who are currently covered by an award. The Act also removes the extended leave provisions in the previous act. It instead prescribes extended leave provisions through regulations. Crucially, the Act also removes the previous act’s stipulation that the usual basis for employment be on a permanent basis.
On the other hand, the Members of Parliament Staff Act creates separate employment legislation for the staff of political office holders, including staff of Ministers and Members of Parliament. Affected employees will be removed from the jurisdiction of the NSW Industrial Relations Commission resulting in staffs being unable to take disputes to an independent tribunal. Furthermore, the act abolishes severance payments, including in the instance a Member of Parliament loses their seat in an election. The act establishes the Member of Parliament as the direct employer in the case of the staff of Members of Parliament.
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