New QLD Act for Public Service Employment Reforms

Tuesday 15 September 2020 @ 12.48 p.m. | Industrial Law | Legal Research

On 16 July 2020, the Public Service and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2020 (Qld) (“the Bill”) was introduced to the Queensland Legislative Assembly by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. The Bill was passed with amendments on 9 September 2020. On 14 September 2020, the Bill received royal assent as the Public Service and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2020 (Qld) (“the Act”), and commenced on the date of assent.

The Act aims to give effect to the first stage of public sector management reforms. The reforms are part of the Government’s response to the recommendations in an independent review of Queensland’s state employment laws conducted by Mr Peter Bridgman.

The Independent Bridgman Review

In September 2018, the Premier commissioned Mr Bridgman to conduct an independent review of Queensland’s public employment laws. The review was commissioned in order to inquire into the state's public service sector as an employer.

In May 2019, Mr Bridgman released the A Fair and Responsive Public Service for All Report (“the Bridgman Review”), which included 99 recommendations on various reforms in order to promote and improve upon fairness, responsiveness, and inclusiveness in public sector employment. The final report also included discussion on how employment relationships are formed and managed, and how public services are organized.

Some of the recommendations in the Bridgman Review, include:

  • Establishment of a new Queensland Governance Council, determination of a five-year rolling program of review of programs, agencies, and themes as part of its agenda (recommendations 17 and 19)
  • Alignment on the issue of gender pay equity with the Industrial Relations Act 2006 (Qld) (“the IR Act”) (recommendation 26)
  • Senior executives being established on a full-time basis, rather than on a part-time, parental leave, or job sharing arrangement (recommendation 30)
  • The Public Sector Commission releasing detailed guidance on disciplinary sanctions applicable under relevant laws and regulations (recommendation 52)
  • The Public Sector Commission clarifying employees’ rights on civic participation (recommendation 92)

The Bridgman Review follows and complements an earlier independent review into Queensland public sector workforce reporting, completed by Professor Peter Coaldrake in December 2018 (“the Coaldrake Review”). The Coaldrake Review focused on the transparency of public sector workforce data, improvements to accessing data, and enhanced budgeting and planning for public sector workforce needs.

The Act

One of the main changes under the Act is the amendment to the Public Service Act 2008 (Qld) (“the PS Act”) in order to ensure more effective and consistent application of the Government’s commitment to maximise employment security. The Act contains amendments in order to clarify that permanent employment is the default in public sector employment. Non-permanent forms of employments are only to be used where the alternative is not viable or appropriate.

The Act also provides that public service appeals, previously heard under the PS Act by the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (“the QIRC”) will now be heard under the IR Act in order to ensure transparency and consistency in appeal decisions. Public service appeals are in relation to public service employment matters, such as promotion of an officer, transfer of an officer, unfair and unreasonable treatment of an employee, and so on.

The Act also amends the PS Act in order to establish a Special Commissioner. The Special Commissioner will advise the Minister on matters relating to the effectiveness and efficiency of government entities through the development and implementation of policies and administrative inquiries. The new section 42B of the PS Act provides that the Special Commissioner is to be appointed for no more than 5 years.

Some of the other changes under the Act include:

  • Introduction of positive performance management principles for managers and employees
  • Clarification of the threshold for commencing disciplinary action
  • New directives for disciplinary action and procedures, investigations, and positive performance management
  • New powers for the Public Service Commission to conduct a review of a procedural aspect of a work performance matter at the request of an employee
  • New workplace rights for fixed-term temporary and casual employees to seek a review of employment status after a year of continuous employment in a department

TimeBase is an independent, privately owned Australian legal publisher specialising in the online delivery of accurate, comprehensive and innovative legislation research tools including LawOne and unique Point-in-Time Products. Nothing on this website should be construed as legal advice and does not substitute for the advice of competent legal counsel.

Sources:

Public Service and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2020 (Qld), Public Service and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2020 (Qld), and additional materials available from TimeBase’s LawOne Service

Review of public employment laws (Queensland Government, 4 March 2020)

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