Cuts to the Department of Defence, the ATO and other Australian
Public Sector (APS) departments and agencies will flow from a
general reduction in the size of government and
the abolition or merger of various government agencies. This is in
addition to a wave of public service staffing cuts under the
previous government. The total number of Australian public service
job losses identified in the budget is 16,500 across the four years
to 2016 17, which includes 14,500 positions that had been flagged
for reduction through the previous government's efficiency
Norton Rose Fulbright partner
Sarah Ralph says public service employers will need to ensure
that genuine redundancy obligations under the Fair Work Act
2009 (Cth) are met in order to avoid unfair dismissal claims,
which apply to public service employees covered by modern awards or
enterprise agreements or those employees earning less than
$129,300. Employers will also need to make sure that they comply
with enterprise agreement provisions.
Ms Ralph says that "APS employers should ensure that they
are compliant with their obligations including enterprise agreement
requirements. These obligations can include consultation
requirements as well as specific redeployment and redundancy
procedures. A failure to comply with a provision of an enterprise
agreement is a breach of the Fair Work Act, and can lead to civil
"Other key areas of risk during periods of workplace change
are increases in employee stress and workplace tensions arising
from uncertainty, which can result in workers' compensation
claims and allegations of workplace bullying," she says.
"These risks can be reduced by clear communication about the
selection processes for redundancies and how work will be performed
after the changes have taken place".
It was also announced that the introduction of the
government's paid parental leave scheme, with
a maximum payment of $50,000 for women earning more than $100,000,
will be funded by a 1.5 per cent levy on big business and
taxpayers. The existing paid parental leave scheme, set up by the
former government, pays eligible mothers the minimum wage for 18
weeks, regardless of whether they earned more or less than this
prior to going on maternity leave. People are only eligible for the
payments under the current scheme if they earn less than
Ms Ralph says that "the paid parental leave legislation has
not yet been introduced into Parliament, and will, from 1 July
2014, require the support of the Greens or five out of the eight
Independents and micro-parties in order for the government to pass
the legislation. The government's paid parental scheme is
likely to face significant hurdles and there is a real likelihood
that it won't make it through Parliament without
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