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Public Service Amendment (Supporting a Regional Workforce) Bill 2017

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2017

 

 

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

 

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Public Service Amendment (Supporting a Regional Workforce) Bill 2017

 

 

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

and

STATEMENT OF COMPATIBILITY WITH HUMAN RIGHTS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Circulated by authority of

Cathy McGowan



Public Service Amendment (Supporting a Regional Workforce) Bill 2017

 

OUTLINE

The purpose of the bill is to support increased use of telecommuting (working remotely) in the Australian Public Service, supporting greater decentralisation of the Australia Public Service workforce into regional areas.

The intent of the bill is to remove any discrimination against an otherwise suitable candidate based on their location or capacity to move to a major city. If the candidate is able to telecommute and meet the requirements of the position, with reasonable adjustments by the Agency, then they should have the opportunity to do so.

The bill will encourage greater decentralisation of individual employees or positions, which would have a broad benefit to regional areas and allow Agencies to attract the best and the brightest.  This would result in a regional perspective in the development of policy and the work of the Australian Public Service. 

The bill adds telecommuting to the employment principles of the APS and to the rules around the APS merit based promotion and selection process. Removing any discrimination in this process on the basis of a candidate’s location, if they are able to telecommute and fulfil the required duties.

Under the amendments, Agency Heads are also responsible for promoting, informing and facilitating the use of telecommuting by employees of the Agency. If by telecommuting the employee is unable to carry out the inherent requirements of the work to be done, even if reasonable adjustments for the employee were made the Agency head will also be limited in directing an employee to carry out duties at a particular location.

The intent is not to exclude persons located in metropolitan areas from telecommuting, but to make the Act explicit in supporting telecommuting from regional areas.

FINANCIAL IMPACT

 

The bill will have no financial impact.

 

NOTES ON CLAUSES

 

Clause 1: Short title

 

Clause 1 is a formal provision specifying the short title of the Act.

 

Clause 2: Commencement

 

The Act commences on the day after the Act receives the Royal Assent.

 

Clause 3: Schedules

 

This clause gives effect to the provisions in Schedule 1 of the bill.

 

Schedule 1 - Amendments

 

Item 1 inserts two additional definitions to Section 7, relating to the interpretation of a Regional Area.

 

This section defines a regional area as an area that is classified as inner regional, outer regional, remote or very remote under the ABS Remoteness Structure. The ABS Remoteness Structure is the Remoteness Structure described in:

 

·          the document titled “Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS): Volume 5 - Remoteness Structure, July 2011”, published by the Australian Statistician, as amended from time to time; or

 

·          the most recent replacement document that is published by the Australian Statistician, as amended from time to time.

 

 

Item 2 adds a new paragraph at the end of subsection  10A(1).

 

This section relates to the Australian Public Service (APS) employment principles. It adds a principle that the APS will facilitate the use of telecommuting to support employees who wish to telecommute from a regional area, rather than work at a particular place.

 

 

Item 3 adds a new paragraph at the end of subsection 10A(2).

 

This section relates to the engagement and promotion of APS employees. The bill adds a requirement that employment decisions should not unreasonably discriminate against any candidate on the basis that the candidate will telecommute from a regional area, rather than work at a particular place.

 

Item 4 adds a new paragraph at the end of subsection 10A.

 

This section relates to the APS employment principles. The new paragraph stipulates that it is not reasonable to discriminate against a candidate who will telecommute from the regional area, if they are able to complete the requirements of the position, with reasonable adjustments by the agency.

 

Item 5 inserts a new item to the list at 11A(1)(d)

 

This section relates to the employment matters about which the APS Commissioner’s can issue directions. The bill adds ‘telecommuting’ to the list of employment matters about which the APS Commissioner’s can issue directions.

Item 6 inserts a new paragraph after section 18

 

This section relates to the role of Agency Heads. The bill adds a new section that requires and Agency Head to establish and maintain electronic and other systems to facilitate the use of telecommuting by employees of the Agency.

 

Item 7 and 8 amends Section 25 to add a paragraph at the end of the section.

 

This section relates to the Agency Heads role in assigning duties to an APS employee, including the place or places at which the duties are to be performed. The bill adds a new paragraph relating to telecommuting, to ensure an employee is able to telecommute, if they are able to carry out the inherent requirements of the work to be done, with reasonable adjustments made by the Agency Head.



STATEMENT OF COMPATIBILITY WITH HUMAN RIGHTS

 

Prepared in accordance with Part 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011

 

Public Service Amendment (Supporting a Regional Workforce) Bill 2017

 

This bill is compatible with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in section 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 .

 

Overview of the bill

 

The purpose of the bill is to support increased use of telecommuting in the Australian Public Service, supporting greater decentralisation of the Australia Public Service workforce and providing opportunities for people living in regional areas to work for the Australia Public Service.

 

The intent of the bill is to remove any discrimination against an otherwise suitable candidate based on their location or capacity to move to a major city. If the candidate is able to telecommute and meet the requirements of the position, with reasonable adjustments by the Agency, then they should have the opportunity to do so.

 

Human rights implications

 

This bill promotes greater equity and the right not to be discriminated against based on the individuals place of residence.

 

The bill promotes the rights defined under Article 2, 16 and 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and 2(2) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). The bill gives effect to a number of Australia's human rights obligations ensure that no one is denied their rights because of factors such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property or birth or other status. This includes discrimination on certain other grounds, including: age, nationality, marital status, disability, place of residence within a country and sexual orientation.

 

Conclusion

 

This bill is compatible with human rights because it advances the protection of human

Rights, in particular it promotes the right to equality and non-discrimination.

 

 

 

 

Cathy McGowan