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Employment Advocate Reports 1997-98


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ADVOCATE

The Employment Advocate

Annual Report

1997 - 1998

The Employment Advocate

A nnual Report 1997 -98

The Employment Advocate - helping employers and employees to achieve better workplaces

© Commonwealth of Australia, 1998

ISSN 1441 - 323X

This work is copyright. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced by any process without permission from Auslnfo.

Requests and enquiries concerning reproduction and rights should be addressed to the Manager, Legislative Services, Auslnfo, GPO Box 84, Canberra ACT 2601.

For further information on material contained in this report, please contact the Manager, Corporate Planning and Services, Office of the Employment Advocate, on 02 9282 0879.

A D V O C A T E

The Honourable Peter Reith MP Minister for Workplace Relations and Small Business Parliament House

Canberra, ACT 2600

Dear Minister

I have pleasure in submitting the annual report of the Employment Advocate for the financial year of 1997-98.

This report has been prepared under section 83 BE of the Workplace Relations Act 1996.

This report addresses the operations of the Employment Advocate under the Workplace Relations Act 1996 for the period 1 July 1997 to 30 June 1998. It also reports on the work of the Office of the Employment Advocate.

Yours sincerely

Alan Rowe Employment Advocate 12 October 1998

Table Of Contents Introduction 7

Contact officer 8

Corporate overview 9

Corporate governance 9

New responsibilities and legislative amendments 11

How the Office of the Employment Advocate handles Australian workplace agreements filed for approval 13

How the Office of the Employment Advocate ensures compliance with the Workplace Relations Act 1996 and the National Code of Practice for the Construction Industry 18

Discretionary grants 19

Minister’s Directions to Employment Advocate 19

Performance reporting 19

Research program 37

Who is making Australian workplace agreements? 39

Advertising and market research 44

Consultants 45

Access and equity 45

Appendices

Appendix 1 Staffing overview 47

Appendix 2 Office of the Employment Advocate Corporate Plan 1997-98 49

Appendix 3 Office of the Employment Advocate Service Charter 56

Appendix 4 Freedom of information 63

Appendix 5 Office of the Employment Advocate contact details 66

Compliance Index 67

Index 70

Tables and charts

Table 1: AWA filing performance (by employer) 22

Table 2: AWA approval performance (by employer) 24

Table 3: Legal and compliance matters by type 25

Table 4: Legal and compliance matters by State of origin 26

Table 5: Total staffing (permanent and temporary) by classification, gender and location - 30 June 1998 47

Chart 1: AWAs filed per month 47

Chart 2: Designated awards per month 22

Chart 3: Designated awards by State and Territory 23

Chart 4: AWAs approved per month 23

Chart 5: Legal and compliance matters by type 26

Chart 6: Legal and compliance matters by State of origin 26

Chart 7: National Telephone Enquiry Service - calls per month 33

Chart 8: AWA State of origin (employers) 39

Chart 9: AWA State of origin (employees) 40

Chart 10: Employees with AWAs (by new and existing employee status) 40

Chart 11: Employees with AWAs (by full-time and part-time status) 41

Chart 12: Employees with AWAs (by gender) 41

Chart 13: Employees with AWAs (by occupation) 41

Chart 14: Number of AWAs per employer 42

Chart 15: Employers with AWAs by size of employer 42

Chart 16: AWAs by size of employer 43

Chart 17: Employers with AWAs by sector 43

Chart 18: Employees with AWAs by sector 43

- .·;■·

Introduction This is the second report on the operations of the Employment Advocate. This report is the first full year report since the commencement of the Employment Advocate in January 1997.

This reporting year has seen the operations and role of the Employment Advocate and the Office of the Employment Advocate (OEA) increase to meet a growing workload, particularly as a result of an increase in the number of Australian workplace agreements (AWAs) lodged with the OEA and the new functions allocated to the Employment Advocate and the OEA. Continued recruitment action was a major activity during the year. Accommodation in each State and Territory capital city was settled, as was the

documentation of internal operating procedures. The provision of information to employers and employees seeking to make AWAs and in relation to freedom of association was also expanded.

The head office of the OEA is located at 477 Pitt Street, Sydney, with regional offices in each capital city. Wherever possible, the OEA is collocated with an office of the Department of Workplace Relations and Small Business (DWRSB), or a State or Territory department that administers workplace relations.

The Employment Advocate’s functions can be summarised as follows:

• providing assistance and advice to employers (especially in small business) and employees on the Workplace Relations Act 1996, particularly AWAs and the freedom of association provisions;

• filing and approving AWAs, ensuring that they meet all statutory requirements;

• handling alleged breaches of AWAs and the AWA and freedom of association provisions; and

• assisting parties in prosecuting alleged breaches of AWAs and the AWA and freedom of association provisions, where appropriate.

In performing these functions, the Employment Advocate is required to pay particular regard to:

• the needs of workers in a disadvantaged bargaining position (for example: women, people from a non-English speaking background, young people, apprentices, trainees and outworkers);

• assisting workers to balance work and family responsibilities, and

• promoting better work and management practices through AWAs.

The Employment Advocate also has the power to initiate inspections to ensure compliance with AWAs and the AWA and freedom of association provisions of the Act and to facilitate voluntary compliance where there may have been breaches.

During 1997-98 the Employment Advocate under an amendment to the Workplace Relations Act 1996, was allocated the additional function of being able to apply to the Australian Industrial Relations Commission for the removal of preference clauses from awards and certified agreements. In addition, staff of the OEA were given additional responsibilities as follows:

• in September 1997, the National Code of Practice for the Construction Industry (the Code) was endorsed and adopted by all Australian Governments (Commonwealth, State and Territory); the OEA was given responsibility for investigating breaches of the industrial relations aspects of the Code in respect of Australian Government construction projects; and

• in December 1997 a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between the Secretary of DWRSB and the Employment Advocate which saw the OEA assume primary responsibility for certain aspects of the Workplace Relations Act 1996, as outlined later in this report.

The Employment Advocate’s staff are appointed under the Public Service Act 1922 and are formally under the responsibility of the Secretary of DWRSB. Likewise, the Employment Advocate’s budget is provided as part of the DWRSB budget allocation.

For this reason, the DWRSB Annual Report for 1997-98 will include information on the Employment Advocate’s activities in the areas of internal and external scrutiny, occupational health and safety, and the Employment Advocate’s contribution to the Financial Statements.

Other major documents which may contribute to an understanding of the Employment Advocate’s operations include the OEA Corporate Plan for 1997-98 which is reproduced at Appendix 2, the OEA Service Charter reproduced at Appendix 3, the Workplace Relations and Small Business Portfolio Budget Statements, and the AWA information kit which can be obtained by calling 1300 363 471.

During the reporting year, the OEA introduced an Internet website to enable Internet users to gain instant access to information on the activities of the Employment Advocate. The website can be accessed at http://www.oea.gov.au.

Contact Officer Specified information for the OEA will be incorporated in a DWRSB document available to Members of Parliament and Senators on request. The contact officer in relation to the specified information is the Manager, Corporate Planning and Services, on telephone (02) 9282 0879 and facsimile (02) 9282 0818.

Corporate Overview The Employment Advocate and the OEA head office, which comprises some 50 staff, are located in the Sydney CBD at 477 Pitt Street. Regional offices are located in all State/Territory capital cities, with between two and 14 staff in each. There were 91 staff

employed in the OEA as at 30 June 1998.

The organisation structure of the OEA as at 30 June 1998 was:

N.S.VV. A.C.T. AYVA

Policy

Compliance

Advisory and Agreements Policy

Legal and Compliance Senior Manager DAVID RUSHTON

Workplace Agreements Senior Manager JOE TAURO

Deputy Employment Advocate JONATHAN HAMBERGER

Employment Advocate ALAN R O W E

C orporate G overnance Corporate governance is concerned with structures and processes for decision making, and with the controls and behaviour within organisations that support effective accountability for performance outcomes.

When the Employment Advocate commenced operation a high priority was the development of the first Corporate Plan, against which this report is framed. The 1998­ 99 Corporate Plan, for the 12 month period from 1 July 1998 to 30 June 1999, is a key element of the Employment Advocate’s performance management systems. It forms the

foundation upon which individual work unit business plans and performance indicators are developed. It is intended that the Corporate Plan will also establish the benchmarks for reporting in the 1998-99 Annual Report. The 1998-99 Corporate Plan is available on the OEA’s Internet website and from OEA offices in each State and Territory.

Considerable development of the 1998-99 Corporate Plan took place during the later stages of 1997-98. The Corporate Plan is the living document which, when combined with Branch Business Plans, establishes the framework for the delivery of OEA services to its clients and is seen as one of the most valuable tools to complement the legislative role of the Employment Advocate. The Plan provides information on the OEA’s mission and values, the environment in which the OEA will operate and key performance areas, objectives, strategies and performance indicators.

The OEA’s Executive meets on a weekly basis, and feedback is promptly provided to all staff by their Branch Heads and through a written summary of outcomes. The internal communication strategy, first developed in the first half of 1997, has been reviewed to meet the continued development of the OEA. The majority of policies and strategies developed during 1997-98 are scheduled for review during 1998-99 to ensure that they reflect changes in the public service environment, as well as recognising the continued development of the OEA.

A staff consultative committee, consisting of both staff and management representatives located in various locations throughout Australia, was formed to facilitate a two-way flow of information between staff and management and, where necessary, to make recommendations to the Employment Advocate about internal management issues.

During 1997-98, a code of conduct for staff was developed which recognised existing Australian Public Service (APS) values and standards of conduct, and encompassed the structure and scope of the legislation that governs the APS. Changes to the Public Service Regulations early in 1998 required a review of the OEA Code of Conduct. This review was scheduled for completion in August 1998.

During the reporting period, policies were developed in consultation with staff on issues including outsourcing, human resource development, performance management, security, recruitment and selections, and work and family.

An external consultant, KPMG, was appointed as the OEA’s internal auditors in September 1997. As the first step, an internal audit risk assessment was undertaken and, subsequently, fraud control and internal audit plans for 1997-98 were developed. The internal audit plan was implemented during the year through a series of quarterly reviews on different aspects of OEA operations. An Internal Audit Committee has been established consisting of the Executive and the internal auditors. The Internal Audit Committee meets quarterly and determines the framework for ensuring that the OEA meets its corporate governance and financial requirements, and examines the Internal Audit quarterly review reports.

The Employment Advocate implemented the APS reforms during the year, including making AWAs with OEA staff. The AWAs, which were developed through a representative committee, consolidate staff conditions from several sources into a single document. They provide more flexible leave and attendance arrangements, roll some

allowances into base pay and provide an option of working 38 hours per week. As at 30 June 1998, 86 of the 91 employees (94 per cent) were covered by an AWA.

New Responsibilities And Legislative Amendments During 1997-98 the Employment Advocate and the OEA undertook additional responsibilities as follows:

• The National Code of Practice for the Construction Industry (the Code) was endorsed and adopted by all Australian Governments (Commonwealth, State and Territory) to assist in the way business is carried on in respect of Government construction projects. The Code is to be applied to the maximum practical extent to

all construction and building work undertaken for Commonwealth purposes. The Government has set up processes to monitor and report on the Code and to determine whether a sanction should be imposed on a party for a breach of the Code. Such measures include a Code Monitoring Group (CMG) which has

oversight of Code implementation and compliance matters. Under the implementation guidelines for the Code (section 5.5) the OEA has been given primary responsibility for investigating alleged breaches of the industrial relations provisions of the Code in conjunction, where necessary, with DWRSB on

Commonwealth Government sites. Staff within the Legal and Compliance Branch of the OEA have also been involved in promoting the Code and providing education and assistance to both employer and employee representatives in relation to the Code. Further, section 7.2 of the implementation guidelines provides for a

representative of the OEA to sit on the CMG. That representative is the Deputy Employment Advocate.

• In December 1997, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between the Secretary of DWRSB and the Employment Advocate. The purpose of the MOU was to define responsibilities between the OEA and DWRSB. In particular, under the MOU OEA staff were given additional functions under the Workplace Relations Act 1996 relating to:

- coercion in agreement making (section 170 NC);

- right of entry to workplaces by union officials; and

- strike pay, that is, payments to workers for periods of industrial action.

Following the signing of the MOU, OEA Compliance Officers have been appointed as inspectors under section 84 of the Workplace Relations Act 1996.

The MOU also provides that because of the expertise of DWRSB inspectors in award breaches, which may be of assistance to the OEA in investigating complaints of breaches of AWAs, certain DWRSB officers are to be appointed as authorised officers under s83BH of the Workplace Relations Act 1996. As at 30 June 1998, no DWRSB inspector had been appointed an authorised officer, but appointments were expected to occur early in 1998-99.

Legislative a me nd me nt s

The Workplace Relations Act 1996 was the subject of amendment which received assent on 11 December 1997 in the form of the Workplace Relations and Other Legislation Amendment Act 1997. The significant amendments in respect of the Employment Advocate’s functions were as follows:

• technical amendments affecting the issuing of filing receipts for AWAs, as follows:

- an increase in the number of days allowable for an AWA to be lodged after it is signed by the parties from 14 to 21; and

- a requirement that the Employment Advocate issue a filing receipt if the Employment Advocate is not satisfied that the filing requirement in paragraphs in 170VO (1) (a) and (c) for the document have been met in all respects but he or she is satisfied that the failure to meet those filing requirements has not disadvantaged, and will not disadvantage, a party to the AWA. Those filing requirements are that the AWA must be signed and dated by each of the parties and the signatures must be witnessed, and that the employer must have provided any other information that the Employment Advocate requires by notice published in the Gazette;

• an extension to the powers of Authorised Officers to facilitate effective investigations; and

• the insertion of section 298Z to allow the Employment Advocate, an organisation bound by or an employee whose employment is covered by, an award or certified agreement, to make application to the Australian Industrial Relations Commission for the removal of preference clauses from awards and certified agreements.

How The Office Of The Employment Advocate Handles Australian Workplace Agreements Filed For Approval Case and information management

AWAs and associated documents are normally lodged at the OEA national mailing address. They are converted to electronic images and data by an external service provider and then sent to the Australian Workplace Agreements Management System (AWAMS). AWAMS combines document imaging, database and workflow technologies

to facilitate national distribution, assessment and storage of AWAs. AWAs are typically received in multiple lots (batches) from an employer. AWAs received in a batch from one employer would normally be processed together.

After receipt, AWAs are allocated to a client service officer. Subsequent AWAs from an employer are normally allocated to the original client service officer.

Proced ures manual

A procedures manual for AWA filing and assessment is maintained electronically on the OEA’s Intranet and is accessed by client service officers from their workstations. The manual leads client service officers through the AWA filing and assessment process and provides guidance to case officers on assessing AWAs against the requirements of the

Workplace Relations Act 1996. It is regularly updated to reflect legal advice and improvements in the OEA’s approach to AWA processing.

Electronic mail is used to advise staff of updates. As the manual is stored electronically, rather than in paper form, staff have instantaneous access to current policies and guidelines.

D e l e g a t i o n s

As staff expertise has developed, the Employment Advocate has progressively delegated responsibility for appropriate components of AWA processing. This has been accompanied by directions on the exercise of the delegations.

The delegations include:

• filing of AWAs to client service officers and above;

• determination of designated awards to regional managers and above;

• approval of AWAs (where AWAs from the same employer in similar terms have already been approved) to regional managers;

refusal of AWAs to regional managers and above; and

• approval of AWAs and referral of AWAs to the Australian Industrial Relations Commission to the Deputy Employment Advocate and Senior Manager, Workplace Agreements Branch.

In all cases, the delegations only extend to issues addressed in the procedures manual.

Filing

Before issuing a filing receipt for an AWA, the client service officer must be satisfied that the filing requirements set out in section 170VO of the Workplace Relations Act 1996 have been met. In summary, the filing requirements are that the:

• AWA has been signed and dated by the parties, and the signatures witnessed;

• AWA has been received by the OEA within 21 days of being signed;

• AWA is accompanied by a properly completed employer declaration (which is contained in the filing application form); and

• employer has provided any other information required by the Employment Advocate (by completing the questions in the filing application form).

The client service officer normally has enough information to establish whether or not a filing receipt can be issued, based on an examination of the AWA and the accompanying filing application form. However, it is sometimes necessary to contact the employer for additional information. In cases where the filing requirements have not been met due to signing, dating or witnessing deficiencies, but it is clear that the parties to the AWA have not been, and will not be, disadvantaged, the filing requirements may be waived. Similarly, where there are deficiencies in the information provided in the filing application form the requirement to provide adequate responses to all questions may be waived provided that the information received is adequate to enable informed assessment of the AWAs. Where unmet filing requirements are not waived the AWA is not filed and is returned to the employer. In most cases, the AWAs are again lodged after

the deficiencies have been rectified.

The filing receipt is normally issued by the client service officer, acting under the delegated authority of the Employment Advocate. A t the same time that a filing receipt is issued, a letter is normally sent to the employee party to the AWA. This letter advises the employee that the OEA has received a signed AWA. It also outlines the approval assessment process and encourages the employee to contact the client service officer or the OEA National Telephone Enquiry Service within 14 days if they have questions or concerns.

Designated awards

Where an employer wishes to make an AWA with an employee whose terms and conditions of employment are not covered by a State or federal award, the employer must apply to the Employment Advocate for an award to be designated for the purposes of the no-disadvantage test in accordance with section 170 XE (2) of the Workplace

Relations Act 1996. Applications for designated awards are normally dealt with by a client service officer in the relevant State or Territory office. The client service officer ensures that the employee in question is genuinely award free before proceeding to designate an award (in some cases, the employment concerned is covered by a State

common rule award or awards without the employer being aware of this).

A number of factors are taken into account in deciding which award to designate, including the industry of the applicant, and the nature of the work performed by the employee. The employer is given an opportunity to suggest which award would be most relevant and any submissions by the bargaining agents for the employer and employee

are considered. In most cases, awards that have broad industry coverage are designated. Where the award designation is straightforward, the decision is taken by the regional manager acting under delegation from the Employment Advocate, on the advice of a client service officer. More complex cases are referred to the Deputy Employment

Advocate for decision.

A ss ess me nt and approval

The AWA is examined to assess whether it meets the approval requirements set out in sections 170VPA and 170VPB of the Act. In summary, the approval requirements are that the:

• AWA does not include any provisions prohibiting disclosure of its terms by either party;

• employee had the AWA for the required number of days (five days for a new employee and 14 days for an existing employee) before signing it;

• AWA contains a dispute resolution procedure and the model anti-discrimination provision;

• employer explained the effect of the AWA to the employee;

• employee genuinely consented to making the AWA;

• employer either offered AWAs in the same terms to all comparable employees or had valid reasons for not doing so; and

• AWA passes the no-disadvantage test (the test ensures that an employee's overall terms and conditions are not reduced when compared with the relevant or designated awards and relevant laws).

Checks to ensure that the AWA does not contain provisions which prohibit disclosure of AWA terms and that employees had the AWAs for the required number of days before signing are undertaken first. Usually this only involves examining the AWA and the filing application form. However, in some cases contact with the employee or employer is necessary to establish whether the employee had the final AWA for the required period before signing. If either of these requirements is not met, a refusal notice is issued to the employer. The employer is required to provide a copy of the notice to the employee.

In all other cases, the client service officer would commence an examination of the AWA to assess whether it meets the other approval requirements. For the purposes of the no-disadvantage test, a check is made to ensure the current version of the award is used. The client service officer then reads the whole AWA in conjunction with the award and filing application form, noting how the AWA compares with the award, and also whether the AWA purports to make any changes to matters covered by Commonwealth or State legislation.

It may be necessary to seek further information from the employer in order to clarify issues, such as how particular terms of an AWA are to operate. Note is taken of any response by the employee to the letter that has been sent to them, and of any submissions made either by the employer or the employee, or their duly authorised bargaining agents. Any correspondence or contact with the OEA by the employee prior to the lodgement of the AWA is also taken into consideration. In some cases, it is necessary to contact the employee to obtain their assessment of the value of provisions contained in the AWA, or to establish whether they fully understand and consent to such provisions.

Having made an assessment as to whether the AWA meets the approval requirements, the client service officer prepares a recommendation to the Employment Advocate or his delegate concerning the approval of the AWA. The recommendation will normally

include a schedule outlining how the AWA compares with the relevant or designated award and any relevant Commonwealth or State legislation. Where the AWA eliminates or modifies conditions such as penalty rates, overtime or allowances, the recommendation may also include detailed calculations. These indicate how the employee’s remuneration under the AWA would compare to what they would receive under the relevant or designated award under different working patterns. To assist in the preparation of such calculations, the filing application form has been revised to require the employer to provide more information on intended working patterns under the AWA.

If recommending that overall the employee is disadvantaged by the AWA, the client service officer may indicate whether any of the concerns could be met by an undertaking by the employer, or other action by the parties. For example, a proposed undertaking might place a limit on the amount of overtime or weekend work where an ‘annualised’ salary arrangement is introduced under the AWA.

After considering the recommendation, the Employment Advocate, or his delegate, may seek further information from the parties to the AWA. If it is considered that undertakings or other action are necessary for the Employment Advocate or delegate to be sure that the no-disadvantage test has been met, the relevant client service officer

would normally contact the employer. In most cases to date, the employer has provided undertakings sufficient for the AWA to meet the no-disadvantage test.

In cases where straightforward undertakings or other action would enable the no­ disadvantage test to be met (for example, where an award provision has been inadvertently omitted from the AWA) initial contact is made with the employer by telephone. In more complex cases, a letter is set to the employer inviting a response

within 14 days. Where the initial response still fails to satisfy the no-disadvantage test or no response is received, a follow-up letter is sent.

Once the Employment Advocate, or his delegate, has determined that all the approval requirements have been met, an approval notice is sent to the employer, together with a copy of the approved AWA. If the AWA does not meet the requirements concerning dispute resolution and anti-discrimination, the relevant model provisions are deemed

to apply. The approval notice refers to any undertakings made by the employer or other action by the parties and to any deemed provisions. The employer is required to provide a copy of the approval notice, and AWA, including any undertakings or other action, an information sheet prepared by the OEA and copies of deemed provisions, to

the employee.

If the Employment Advocate or his delegate remains unsure that the no-disadvantage test has been met, the AWA, together with relevant documentation is referred to the Australian Industrial Relations Commission, and a referral notice and letter are sent to the employer outlining the reasons for the decision. If it is decided that any of the

other approval requirements have not been met, a refusal notice is issued to the employer. The employer is required to provide a copy of any referral notice or refusal notice to the employee.

How The Employment Advocate And The Office Of The Employment Advocate Ensure Compliance With The Relevant Provisions Of The Workplace Relations Act Ί996 And The National Code Of

Practice For The Construction Industry Both proactive and reactive methods are used to ensure compliance with the relevant provisions of the Workplace Relations Act 1996.

Proactive compliance activities occur in one of two ways: a formal process whereby officers of the Compliance Section, by arrangement, visit industry organisations and employers in particular regions; or through officers undertaking proactive programs on an industry by industry basis.

Reactive compliance activities are undertaken in response to enquiries made to officers, which usually involve allegations that some particular section of the Workplace Relations Act 1996 is being, or has been, contravened. The Legal and Compliance Branch pursues such matters in the following way:

• a record is made of the enquiry or allegation;

• consideration is then given to whether or not it is a matter that warrants further investigation;

• once a decision is made regarding a future course of action, the complainant is advised;

• if the matter is to be investigated further, the most effective approach to investigating the matter is determined: for example, this may involve interviewing persons relevant to the enquiry and collecting relevant documents;

• the results of enquiries will then be evaluated by compliance staff, in conjunction with a legal officer where necessary;

• Legal Section will, if necessary, seek the advice of Counsel;

• if it is determined that no further action should be taken, the relevant parties will be advised;

• if it is determined that there is some contravention of the Workplace Relations Act 1996, in the first instance voluntary compliance will be sought; and

• in the event that voluntary compliance is not forthcoming, proceedings will be instituted in the appropriate court.

All allegations of contraventions of relevant provisions of the Workplace Relations Act 1996 are taken seriously. The Legal and Compliance Branch has established time frames within which to investigate the matters. These are referred to in more detail later in this report.

A similar process is followed in investigating suspected breaches of the National Code of Practice for the Construction Industry on Commonwealth Government sites. However, any action arising from those investigations is the responsibility of the Code Monitoring Group which is chaired by DWRSB.

Discretionary Grants The Employment Advocate did not have a grant program in 1997-98.

Minister's Directions To Employment Advocate The Workplace Relations Act 1996 requires the Employment Advocate’s annual reports to include details of any directions given by the Minister during the financial year under section 83BC of that Act.

No such directions were given during 1997-98.

Performance Reporting The OEA’s 1997-98 Corporate Plan established a range of strategies aimed at ensuring that the Employment Advocate could fulfil his obligations under the Workplace Relations Act 1996 efficiently and effectively. The Corporate Plan also established a range of performance indicators aimed at measuring performance against these strategies. The

Corporate Plan is reproduced at Appendix 2.

Key Performance Area 1: Ass ess ing AWAs

Objective: Assess AWAs, to ensure they meet the no-disadvantage test and other statutory requirements, within timelines and service standards that meet clients’ expectations.

Strategies adopted for the achievement of this objective include the:

• maintenance and application of policies and procedures for assessment of AWAs;

• development and maintenance of systems to support AWA processes;

• development of trained and professional staff to process AWAs; and

• monitoring and analysis of the operation of AWA provisions.

During the reporting period, the number of AWAs filed progressively increased, with 20,172 filed in the second half of the reporting period compared to 5,955 in the first half. The number of AWAs approved increased by a similar proportion during the

second half of the period.

The increased levels of AWAs filed and the requirement to meet the performance indicators established in the Corporate Plan necessitated the development and

implementation of a number of initiatives for continuous improvement in the OEA’s processing performance.

A significant initiative was the development and implementation of the Australian Workplace Agreements Management System (AWAMS), which combines database, workflow and document imaging technologies to facilitate the national distribution, assessment and storage of AWAs. The phased introduction of AWAMS commenced in

late November 1997 and presented significant challenges. Both AWAMS and the supporting national computer network suffered instability to various degrees in the first six months of operation. In addition, with the benefit of additional experience in processing AWAs, it became quickly apparent that the design of AWAMS involved some inefficient workflow features. Together with the substantial increase in the rate of lodgement of AWAs from late 1997, this resulted in delays in AWA processing during the first four months of 1998. AWAMS was also unable to provide accurate reporting on performance in AWA processing.

Throughout that period and subsequently, progressive enhancements have been made to AWAMS, including improved capacity to distribute the workload between offices and to simplify the workflows required to generate AWA filing and approval documentation. Substantial effort was also devoted to stabilising the system and training staff in the use of AWAMS. Consequently, AWAMS has become instrumental in assisting the OEA to process the increasing volume of AWAs and to reduce the backlog in AWA processing.

By the end of June 1998, the overall benefits of AWAMS, as compared to a manual system, were clearly demonstrable, with performance targets being achieved.

Major procedural changes, which have resulted in improved performance during the reporting period, included:

• streamlined internal processes for assessing AWAs against the filing and approval requirements, including better focussed no-disadvantage test assessments and, where appropriate, the ability to waive filing requirements in accordance with legislative amendments;

• national training of staff on streamlined filing and approval procedures to ensure consistency across Australia;

• electronic transfer of cases between offices to reflect peaks and troughs in office workloads;

• increased delegation of powers by the Employment Advocate during the year, as staff developed the relevant expertise, thereby reducing the staff layers involved in handling cases;

• revised employer filing application forms, which provided case officers assessing AWAs with better information on proposed working arrangements; and

• progressively implementing workflow changes, following consideration of a report by an external workflow consultant.

Performance indicators Detailed performance information is only available from the commencement of March 1998, when the performance reporting system became operational. For the earlier part of the year, partial manual records indicate that performance targets were generally met for

the period from July to November 1997, but that there was a progressive failure to meet targets from December 1997 to February 1998 as a result of initial problems with the implementation of AWAMS and the significant increase in AWAs lodged in this period.

1. Filing of AWAs 80 per cent completed within 3 days1

This target was amended from the original target of 100 per cent of filing completed within 2 days of lodgement for new employees and 100 per cent within 3 days of lodgement for existing employees as set out in the 1997-98 Corporate Plan, following a mid-year review. The increased time allowed to complete AWA filing relates to the

implementation of AWAMS and reflects the period of at least one working day required by the OEA’s external service provider to complete its scanning and data entry functions and to transfer the information to the OEA processing queues.

During the reporting period, a total of 26,127 AWAs were filed by the Employment Advocate. Chart 1 below shows the number of AWAs filed by month.

Chart 1: AWAs filed per month

6000

5000

AWAs filed per month

4000

3000

2000

1000

f 1

<

Φ co

φ

% o ω O

I |

I 5

5

1 All timeframes are expressed in working days and do not include time waiting for information from employers or employees which delays the provision of the service.

The month by month analysis provided at Table 1 indicates continuous improvement against the performance indicator since March 1998. A significant and sustained improvement emerged in June when the performance indicator for AWA filing was

exceeded.

Table 1: AWA filing performance (by employer)

3 days or less 4-5 days 6-10 days >10 days

March 49% 25% 11% 15%

April 52% 21% 15% 12%

May 52% 23% 16% 9%

June 82% 15% 3% 0%

2. Designated awards 80 per cent completed within 5 days1

The initial performance indicator contained in the 1997-98 Corporate Plan of 90 per cent of assessments completed within 3 days was reviewed during mid-year operational planning to realistically reflect processing experience and the complexity of the task.

During the reporting period the OEA received 245 requests for designated awards from employers. Forty-eight per cent were finalised, that is, either an award designated or the employer advised of the relevant award, within the performance target of five days. Processing of designated award applications was affected during the middle of the year when resources had to be diverted to processing the backlog of AWA assessments. Performance has progressively improved during the later part of the year with increased staff expertise and better access to federal and State award information. Chart 2 below

indicates the pattern of requests per month.

Chart 2: Designated awards per month

10

5 -

0 ---- 1---- 1---- 1---- 1---- 1---- 1---- 1---- 1---- 1---- 1---- 1----

July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun

1 All timeframes are expressed in working days and do not include time waiting for information from employers or employees which delays the provision of the service.

Chart 3: Designated awards by State and Territory

Chart 3 above shows the pattern of designated award requests on a State/Territory basis. The chart shows the high proportion of requests for designations from Victorian employers, which is primarily a consequence of the absence of State awards in Victoria.

This means that any Victorian employer whose employees are not covered by a federal award must request a designated award before AWAs can be assessed. In other States and Territories, fewer employees are award free.

3. AWA approvals 80 per cent of assessments completed within 20 days'

During the reporting period, a total of 21,304 AWAs were approved by the Employment Advocate or delegates. Chart 4 below shows the number of AWAs approved by month.

Chart 4: AWAs approved per month

5 0 0 0

4000

3 0 0 0

2000

1000

AWAs a p p ro v e d p e r m onth (1997-98)

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1 All timeframes are expressed in working days and do not include time waiting for information from employers or employees which delays the provision of the service.

Table 2 shows performance against the performance indicator for AWAs approved since March 1998.

Table 2: AWA Approval performance (by employer)

March

20 days or less 35% 21-30 days 21%

31-40 days 13%

> 40 days 31%

April 33% 25% 12% 30%

May 44% 31% 11% 14%

June 59% 27% 9% 5%

By the end of the reporting period the OEA had made significant improvements in approval performance. In the last week of June, 87 per cent of AWAs were approved within the performance target.

4. Client satisfaction: To be measured through a survey

In December 1997 the Employment Advocate wrote to all employers who had approved AWAs, inviting them to participate in a survey evaluating the quality of service provided to clients by the OEA. This process was repeated in April 1998, with those employers who had first made AWAs since the initial survey. In total, 195 completed questionnaires were returned (a response rate of 47 per cent).

Survey results remained largely consistent over time, with the major difference between employers surveyed in December 1997 and April 1998 being a decrease in satisfaction with the timeliness of the AWA approval process. This reflects delays in the processing of AWAs in the early part of 1998. However, despite these delays, overall 57 per cent of respondents agreed that their application was approved in a timely fashion.

The OEA's communication with clients regarding its requirements for the approval of the application was rated very highly, with 85 per cent of respondents agreeing that the OEA had communicated its requirements clearly.

Client satisfaction was also rated very highly, with 92 per cent of respondents agreeing that the staff at the OEA handle enquiries in a polite and professional manner.

Other outcomes of the survey are discussed under key performance area 3.

5. Legislation compliance To be measured through internal audit program

The OEA’s internal audit program tests, on a sample basis, compliance of AWA processing with the AWA procedures manual, which has been drafted to ensure compliance with the Workplace Relations Act 1996. KPMG, the internal auditors, have reported no significant departures from the requirements of the procedures manual during the financial year.

Key Performance Area 2: Compliance Activities

Objectives:

Foster high levels of compliance with the AWA, freedom of association and related provisions of the Workplace Relations Act 1996 and with AWAs.

Deal with breaches of the provisions and AWAs in a timely manner.

Strategies adopted to achieve these objectives included:

• ensuring that there are OEA officers (and external contractors where appropriate) trained and available to respond to compliance complaints;

• promoting voluntary compliance, with legal action pursued only where appropriate; and

• programming regular workplace visits targeted at industries of concern.

Enquiries and complaints In the period 1 July 1997 to 30 June 1998 a total of 333 enquiries and complaints were received by the Legal and Compliance Branch relating to matters requiring:

• advice and assistance to employees and employers as to their rights under the Workplace Relations Act 1996;

• investigations of alleged breaches under Parts VID and XA of the Workplace Relations Act 1996; or

• investigations of alleged breaches of AWAs.

A breakdown of the types of matters received is shown in Table 3 and Chart 5 and the State of origin of these matters in Table 4 and Chart 6.

Table 3: Legal & Compliance Matters by type

Freedom of Association 180

AWAs 66

170NC 58

Other 29

Chart 5: Legal and Compliance matters by type

Table 4: Legal and Compliance matters by State of origin

NSW 74

VIC 107

QLD 71

WA 22

SA 21

TAS 7

ACT 17

NT 14

Chart 6: Legal and Compliance Matters by State of Origin

Vic 32.1%

As reported in the Employment Advocate’s Report on Operations to 30 June 1997, there remained outstanding at that date some 96 compliance matters of which 37 were active and 59 pending. As at 30 June 1998, only 4 of those matters remain outstanding; the remaining 92 have been finalised. Of the 4 outstanding, 3 are active and 1 is pending.

Of the 333 compliance matters received in the period 1 July 1997 to 30 June 1998, 221 have been finalised, 62 are active and 50 are pending.

National Code of Practice for the Construction Industry In addition to the above Legal and Compliance matters, officers of the OEA conduct proactive visits to various Commonwealth Government sites covered by the National Code of Practice for the Construction Industry. The OEA undertook seven site visits

between December 1997 and 30 June 1998. The breakdown of visits by State/Territory is as follows:

NSW 1

ACT 4

NT 1

QLD 1

WA nil

SA nil

VIC nil

TAS nil

During the year the OEA has referred five matters concerning breaches of the Code to the Code Monitoring Group.

Court proceedings During 1997-98 the Employment Advocate has commenced two actions in the Federal Court in relation to Part XA of the Workplace Relations Act 1996. The Employment Advocate also made six applications to the Australian Industrial Relations Commission

(AIRC) for the removal of preference clauses from certified agreements.

A. Employment Advocate v the National Union of Workers (NUW) and Another

The Employment Advocate on 20 October 1997 filed an application and statement of claim in the Federal Court in Sydney for alleged breaches of Part XA of the Workplace Relations Act 1996.

Subsequently the NUW and the other respondent sought to challenge the constitutional validity of section 298B and section 298V of the Workplace Relations Act 1996. The respondents later chose not to pursue the constitutional challenge in relation to section 298B but rather to await the decision of Mr Justice Cooper in the TWU

proceedings (see 2 below).

On 10 June 1998 Mr Justice Einfeld fixed 10 July for a hearing for the constitutional challenge to section 298V. On 23 June 1998 solicitors for the respondents wrote to the solicitor for the Employment Advocate advising that the respondents no longer wished to pursue the constitutional challenge to section 298V and this was confirmed in a further letter from the solicitors of the respondents on 30 June 1998.

B. Employment Advocate v Transport Workers Union and the Transport Workers Union (Queensland Branch)

The Employment Advocate filed an application and statement of claim in the Federal Court in Brisbane on 12 December 1997 alleging breaches of Part XA of the Workplace Relations Act 1996. The respondents have challenged the constitutional validity of certain provisions of Part XA. The provisions challenged by the respondents and by the State of New South Wales were sections 298B (2) and (3), section 298G (2) (b) and section 298S. A hearing of the constitutional challenge was before Justice Cooper in the Federal Court in Brisbane on 24 April 1998. Following the hearing Justice Cooper allowed the parties the opportunity to file further written submissions. As at 30 June

1998, Justice Cooper had not handed down his decision.

C. On 26 May 1998 the Employment Advocate made application in the AIRC pursuant to section 298Z of the Workplace Relations Act 1996 seeking the removal of union preference clauses from six certified agreements. The clauses gave absolute preference in employment to members of the Communications, Electrical, Electronic, Energy, Information, Postal, Plumbing and Allied Services Union of Australia (CEPU) over non-union members.

On 29 June 1998 the application came before VP McIntyre in the AIRC. VP McIntyre granted the application of the Employment Advocate and ordered the removal of the said preference clauses from the six certified agreements.

Performance indicators Response to inquiries Initial acknowledgment within 24 hours and initial action (for and complaints example provision of advice) within 72 hours

The Legal and Compliance Branch has, in the year to 30 June 1998, provided initial acknowledgement of complaints within 24 hours in 95.6 per cent of cases.

Where acknowledgement has not occurred within 24 hours, it has occurred within 2 business days.

Further, the Branch has provided initial action (for example the provision of advice) within 72 hours 96.2 per cent of the time. On those occasions when initial action has not occurred within 72 hours, it has occurred within 6 days in all cases.

Litigation Successful outcomes in 75 per cent of applications to Federal Court

As indicated elsewhere in this report, the only cases instituted in the Federal Court this year are subject to constitutional challenge and the proceedings therefore have not concluded.

Lack of repeat business Less than 10 per cent of complainants make second complaint

To date the Branch has not received a further complaint from any complainant.

Training and availability Complete recruiting of internal and external staff and complete of staff internal and external staff training by 30 October 1997

The original recruitment of OEA legal and compliance staff was completed by 30 October 1997. Recruitment of consultants was not completed by that date, due to other priorities and a decision to review the proposal to engage consultants for compliance activities.

Recruitment of 12 additional staff occurred in the early part of 1998, following the execution of a Memorandum of Understanding with DWRSB in December 1997 relating to additional compliance functions for the OEA under the Workplace Relations Act 1996 and the National Code of Practice for the Construction Industry.

Training of staff has been ongoing.

Workplace visits Respond to 85 per cent of appropriate requests for workplace visits within 14 days

Complete 80 workplace visits per year

The Branch has responded to 100 per cent of appropriate requests for workplace visits within 5 days.

The Branch had well exceeded the target number of workplace visits and had completed 416 visits as at 30 June 1998.

Key Perf ormance Area 3: As s i s ta n c e and Advice

Objectives: Assist employees (particularly those in a disadvantaged bargaining position) and employers (particularly those in small business) to understand their rights and obligations under the Workplace Relations Act 1996, especially in relation to AWAs and

freedom of association.

Promote better work and management practices through AWAs, including balancing work and family responsibilities.

Strategies adopted to achieve this objective included:

• funding a number of community based organisations (contracted advisory services) to provide advisory and assistance function on behalf of the OEA;

• conducting seminars and workshops, as well as responding to requests to speak to other organisations;

• responding to ad hoc advisory and assistance requests, primarily through State and Territory offices and the National Telephone Enquiry Service;

• developing, maintaining and distributing good quality, user friendly publications;

• establishing and maintaining an Internet website; and

• conducting a broad information and education program to increase knowledge and awareness of legislation.

Contracted advisory services

Performance Indicator: 3,500 clients directly assisted through contracted advisory services

The contracted advisory services program was established as a response to the Employment Advocate’s obligations under section 83BB(2) of the Workplace Relations Act 1996. The Workplace Relations Act 1996 identifies the following as examples of workers in a disadvantaged bargaining position:

• women;

• people from a non-English speaking background;

• young people;

• apprentices;

• trainees; and

• outworkers.

Contracted assistance and advisory services can cover workers who may experience disadvantage for reasons of:

• language and literacy skills in English;

• cultural background or ethnic origin;

• gender; and/or

• youth.

A pilot program was funded in 1997-98, with the objective of resourcing established community sector agencies to provide accurate and appropriate assistance and advice to workers in disadvantaged bargaining positions in relation to AWAs and related matters.

The OEA provided funding of $661,162 to 12 organisations to provide a range of service types including:

• telephone assistance and referral and initial legal advice on AWAs and related matters;

• community education workshops;

• national referral list of pro bono bargaining agents to be published on the Internet;

• a model clausebank to assist employees and employers to make AWAs which will be published on the Internet;

• tip sheets for women to promote general awareness of AWA issues;

• cinema advertising to publicise the availability of services to assist workers;

• extending regional legal outreach services to rural communities to include AWAs and related matters;

• a targeted advisory service for young workers, including those in vocational training, including an Internet home page;

• development of a resource kit, training and telephone support for community legal centres and other services to assist in basic AWA inquiries;

• development of AWA information materials specifically tailored to the needs of workers with communication disabilities in formats such as Braille, audio cassettes and large print; and

• the production of a series of radio programs in three community languages and English.

All services are operational, but some activities will roll over into the 1998-99 financial year.

As a result of the timing of the projects, with most services not being operational until the final quarter, meaningful statistical information on the number of clients serviced is not available for the 1997-98 financial year. However, it is already evident that progress has been achieved in terms of servicing the target groups, with the advisory services in regional and rural areas addressing an unmet need.

Seminars and speaking engagements The Employment Advocate and staff of the OEA conducted seminars and undertook a large number of speaking engagements during the year. It is estimated that, in total, approximately 80 speaking engagements were undertaken. These included providing

presentations to a wide range of employers, employees, industrial associations and advisers regarding the role and responsibilities of the Employment Advocate.

Workshops

Performance Indicator : 40 Workshops to be conducted for 600 clients

The OEA conducted a series of workshops across Australia between March and May 1998. Approximately half of these workshops were conducted outside of capital cities.

The workshop program aimed to assist businesses (especially small businesses) in increasing their knowledge of how to make AWAs. The objective was to make employers (and employees) aware of the new opportunity to use AWAs to make flexible

work arrangements that would be mutually beneficial and would meet the requirements for approval under the Workplace Relations Act 1996.

There were 47 workshops conducted across Australia from 17 March 1998 to 30 May 1998. 384 of the 707 attendees completed workshop evaluation forms (54.3 per cent response rate).

The overall feedback was extremely positive, with the vast majority of respondents indicating they were very satisfied with the workshop in both content and presentation. Respondents felt they received value for money and that a big advantage was gained by attending. The presenters and the documentation were considered to be professional and helpful, ensuring the needs of the participants were fully met.

National Telephone Enquiry Service

Performance Indicator: 80 per cent client satisfaction with OEA’s assistance and advisor/ activities (as determined through client surveys)

A National Telephone Enquiry Service (NTES) is provided on a ‘1300’ phone number and a ‘1300’ facsimile number. Employees and employers are able to contact the Employment Advocate for a local call fee from anywhere in Australia. The network of regional offices established in each State and Territory also provides an option for direct local contact. Both avenues provide a service where clients can receive advice and assistance on a range of matters in accordance with the Workplace Relations Act 1996, particularly those relating to AWAs or freedom of association issues.

As at 30 June 1998, the total number of telephone enquiries received by the OEA through the NTES and through State and Territory offices was 17,411. In addition, many enquiries were received by the OEA’s head office.

Of the 17,411 calls received, 47 per cent were from employers, 34 per cent from employees and 6 per cent from business advisers such as solicitors, consultants or employer associations. There has been a significant increase in the ratio of enquiries from employees in comparison to last year, where only 18 per cent of calls were from this group. The increase would be partially attributable to the increasing number of employees being offered, and entering into, AWAs.

The average time taken to respond to the 12,576 calls answered through the NTES was 27 seconds. The average duration of these enquiries was 2 minutes and 34 seconds, which is similar to last year’s result. The average response time has been reduced by 40 per cent, which would be due largely to the increased number of trained staff available

to answer enquiries.

Chart 7: National Telephone Enquiry Service - calls per month

2500 ~

2000 -

1500 -

1000 -

500 -

Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun

The number of enquiries received through the NTES has been variable, but has followed a general upward trend over time, reflecting increased AWA activity.

Over 70 per cent of those employers with AWAs who completed the client survey indicated that they had sought advice from the OEA before lodging their AWAs. Over 90 per cent of these employers indicated that the advice they received was either helpful or very helpful.

Publications

Performance Indicator: Distribution of publications:

50.000 AWA information kits 5.000 How-to guides 50.000 freedom of association brochures

The Employment Advocate has produced an information kit for employers and employees interested in negotiating AWAs. The kit contains:

• Australian workplace agreements - How-to Guide

• Australian workplace agreements - Information Statement for Employees

• Australian workplace agreements - Employer Filing Application

The kit has been distributed through a mailing house. Clients are able to order the kit by calling the mailing house for the cost of a local call from anywhere in Australia.

During 1997-98, almost 50,000 copies of the information kit were circulated to clients. In addition, almost 70,000 copies of the Information Statement for Employees were circulated separately. Over the course of the year, around 12,000 copies of the How-to Guide and the previous employer guide were circulated in addition to those

included in kits.

Over 90 per cent of employers who completed the client survey indicated that they found the employer guide helpful and easy to follow.

Publications providing information on freedom of association for employees, employers and industrial associations have also been produced. These have been circulated through OEA regional offices and by OEA compliance staff.

During the reporting period, approximately 50,000 copies of the freedom of association brochure for employees were circulated, along with around 30,000 copies of the brochure for employers and industrial associations.

All OEA publications are reviewed on an ongoing basis in response to feedback from clients.

Internet website An Internet website has been established by the Employment Advocate and was launched on 24 March 1998.

The site provides information and advice for employers and employees regarding workplace relations issues, particularly AWAs and freedom of association.

Users of the site have access to up-to-date statistics, news releases and copies of OEA publications, including the new How-to Guide on AWAs, the Information Statement for Employees and freedom of association leaflets. The site also addresses those issues and questions most often raised by students, the media and small business advisers.

The Internet website provides a significant contribution to the OEA’s information and advisory activities. By the end of the reporting period, almost 2,500 sessions (77,000 hits) had been recorded.

Advertising campaign During the reporting period, developmental work was undertaken for a planned advertising campaign to raise awareness of AWAs, freedom of association and the role of the Employment Advocate.

Key Performance Area 4: Dev elo pm ent of OEA Organisation

Objectives:

Ensure that the OEA has the people, technology, resources and strategic partnerships needed to achieve its objectives.

Develop the OEA as a model employer.

Strategies adopted for achieving these objectives included:

• maximising staff’s contribution to the OEA through effective staff selections, human resource development activities and implementation of a staff performance management system;

• providing information technology systems which support and enhance the achievement of the OEA’s objectives;

• efficient and effective management of the OEA’s financial and physical resources;

• identification of potential areas of strategic allegiances and development of partnerships with appropriate agencies; and

• implementation of best practice management and communication systems, aligning the interests of the OEA and staff.

Performance Indicators

Staff effectiveness: Development of a performance management system and salary structure by December 1997

A new salary structure took effect on 25 June 1998. In June 1998, the performance management program was in final draft form after its development in consultation with staff. The program is to take effect on 1 July 1998.

Information technology: Development of AWAMS by October 1997, and a range of additional information technology systems by June 1998 to meet management and staff requirements

Unscheduled computer downtime not to exceed 2 per cent of working time

The phased implementation of AWAMS, which provided the OEA with an electronic office for processing AWAs, occurred across OEA regional offices between late November and mid December 1997. The target of October 1997 was not met due to delays by the external contractor in completing the design and build of the system.

Following the implementation of AWAMS, the national computer network and system proved very unstable, despite earlier off site and on site testing designed to replicate the operating environment. Throughout the second half of the reporting period significant enhancements and upgrades were made to the computer network and AWAMS, which have directly contributed to improved AWA processing outcomes.

An electronic office for AWA processing, linking OEA offices nationally, has enabled the OEA to distribute, process and manage very large volumes of documents and information. The benefits of AWAMS in creating an electronic office, as against a manual system, are clearly demonstrated by the OEA’s capacity to process increased volumes of AWAs.

A computerised records management system for administrative records was introduced in November 1997.

Detailed performance information on downtime is only available for AWA processing areas from early April 1998, when this aspect of the reporting system became operational. For the period prior to the introduction of AWAMS, partial manual records indicate the performance target was generally achieved across the OEA. Since early April 1998 downtime for AWA processing areas has been progressively declining, with

19.5% in April, 13.5% in May and 8.2% in June. During the last week of June downtime was 2.1%. Downtime averaged across all OEA computer applications is significantly lower, particularly given that downtime represented by other applications has been negligible and only around half of the OEA’s staff are regular AWAMS users.

A full reporting system is to be introduced via the Information Technology Service Level Agreement with DWRSB, with an effective date of 1 July 1998.

Financial resources: Monthly reporting of actual expenditure levels and analysis of significant variations from projections within 5 OEA days

Financial reporting requirements were met, with enhanced reporting to be developed during 1998-99 to meet the Government’s new accrual based reporting requirements.

Strategic partnerships: Each strategic partnership to be evaluated by June 1998.

The main strategic partnership the OEA maintains is with DWRSB. A Service Level Agreement (SLA) for the delivery of all corporate activities, with the exception of Information Technology, was developed in 1997-98. The SLA, which was finalised in February 1998, was in effect for the period 1 July 1997 to 30 June 1998. It incorporated performance indicators for all functions. The SLA was evaluated late in 1997-98. A SLA for 1998-99 will be developed early in the year. A separate Information Technology SLA will be developed for the same period.

Staff AWAs : Approval by December 1997 of AWAs for OEA staff which will result in improvements in OEA efficiency and productivity, and in quality of staff s working life

Following extensive consultation with staff, AWAs were approved from May 1998.

OEA Research Program AWA Research Program

The AWA research program commenced on 23 February 1998, following recruitment of a full-time officer to manage the program.

The program comprises four related elements:

AWA case s tudi es

The OEA sought proposals from external consultants to undertake comprehensive case studies of the development and implementation of AWAs, including the experiences of employers and employees in May 1998. There were insufficient complying responses to the initial request and, as a result, further expressions of interest were sought after

completion of the reporting period.

It is anticipated that up to 6 case studies will be commissioned. Each case study will comprise an analysis of the experiences of the employer and employees in a workplace in making and working with AWAs.

It is now expected that case studies will be largely completed by the end of March 1999.

Ac c e s s to AWA d o c u m e n t s and c ase studies

On 21 March 1998, the Employment Advocate invited researchers to apply for access to AWA documents and to the OEA’s AWA database. Access to AWAs and to the AWA database will be available to established researchers and research organisations, for projects which analyse trends in agreement making.

The access program is designed to allow independent researchers the opportunity to analyse trends in AWAs. This means that researchers will be able to look at the way employment conditions are handled in AWAs, and how employers and employees are using AWAs to meet their needs. Such access for research purposes is specifically provided for in the Workplace Relations Regulations.

Research applicants are required to demonstrate the relevance of their proposed work, and ensure that the results are widely available in the public interest. Researchers will have to prove that they can maintain the confidentiality of the AWA parties. Researchers will have to meet the same security standards as the Employment Advocate and his staff, and

will be subject to the same penalties, should protected information be disclosed.

A t the end of the reporting period the 13 applications received in response to the invitation were being assessed and detailed arrangements for access were being developed.

AWA research database

The OEA is developing an AWA research database separate from the AWA processing systems. This database will provide for high quality information about AWA parties, the content of AWAs, and will allow key differences between AWAs and relevant awards to be more readily identified.

A t the end of the reporting period, tenders to redevelop aspects of the AWA Research Database were being considered, with a view to letting a contract during July 1998.

It is anticipated that reporting from the database will be possible by October 1998.

Analysis of AWAs

OEA staff undertake ongoing analysis of individual AWAs. This information is disseminated widely through the OEA’s publications, the Internet website and promotional activities. The capacity to undertake this kind of analysis is being expanded through development of the AWA research database.

Some analysis of AWAs is detailed on the following pages.

Who is making AWAs? During 1997-98 the OEA approved approximately 21,000 AWAs. The OEA requires employers applying for AWAs to provide information about their workplace and each employee who will be covered by an AWA. The following charts and tables have been compiled from the information available to the OEA with respect to the AWAs

approved during 1997-98.

State of origin

The following charts illustrate the proportion of AWAs approved during 1997-98 from each State and Territory.

The concentration of AWAs in Victoria reflects the absence of State awards in Victoria.

The charts show that the concentration of employees covered by AWAs in Victoria is even greater than that for employers. This reflects the fact that several employers in Victoria, particularly in the public sector, have entered into AWAs with large numbers of employees.

Chart 8: AWA State of origin (employers)

Chart 9: AWA State of origin (employees)

Vic WA ACT

58% 3% 7%

Tas SA

2 % 4 %

The proportion of AWAs received from the other States and Territories is broadly in line with the proportion of overall employment, with the exception of NSW, which accounts for a less than proportionate number of AWAs and the ACT, where there are significantly more AWAs than would have been expected based on numbers employed.

N e w / e x i s t i n g e m p l o y e e s

The chart below shows the proportions of AWAs for new and existing employees. The Workplace Relations Act 1996 defines a new employee as one who signs an AWA before, or at the time of, commencing the employment to which the AWA relates. An existing employee is employed in the job to which the AWA relates prior to signing an AWA.

Chart 10: Employees with AWAs (by new and existing employee status)

New 18%

Full-time / part-time

The chart below shows the breakdown of employees covered by AWAs approved during the reporting period on the basis of full-time or part-time employment. These figures, when compared with overall labour force figures, show that full-time employees are slightly more likely to be covered by AWAs than are part-time employees.

Chart 11: Employees with AWAs (by full-time and part-time employee status)

Full-time 87%

Part-time 13%

G e n d e r o f e m p l o y e e s

The chart below shows the breakdown of employees who are party to AWAs by gender. The breakdown is comparable to that for the workforce as a whole.

Chart 12: Employees with AWAs (by gender)

Female 40%

O c c u p a t i o n o f e m p l o y e e s

The chart below illustrates the breakdown of AWAs by occupation of employee.

Chart 13: Employees with AWAs (by occupation)

Clerks 7%

Sales and personal service workers 14%

Plant and machine operators 8%

Labourers and related workers 12%

Para- professionals 4%

Managers and administrators 44%

Number of AWAs per employer

The chart below provides a breakdown of employers on the basis of the number of AWAs they are party to, ie, the number of employees with whom they have made AWAs.

Chart 14: Number of AWAs per employer

200 -

150 -

100 -

50 -

1 AWA 2 to 5 6 to 20 21 to 100 >100 AWAs

AWAs AWAs AWAs

Empl o y e r s w i t h AWAs by s i z e

The chart below shows the break-up of employers making AWAs on the basis of the total number of employees they have (as opposed to the number of employees with whom they have made AWAs).

Chart 15: Employers with AWAs by size of employer

100+ 44%

<20 28%

20-99 28%

AWAs by size of employer

The chart below illustrates the proportion of the total number of AWAs approved which have been made by small, medium and large employers.

Chart 16: AWAs by size of employer

<20 4%

100+ 83%

20-99 13%

AWAs by s e c t o r

The charts below illustrate the proportion of total AWAs by employment sector for both employers who have made AWAs and for total AWAs made by employees.

Chart 17: Employers with AWAs by sector

Chart 18: Employees with AWAs by sector

Advertising and market research Newspaper advertising

The total cost of newspaper advertising paid by the Employment Advocate during 1997­ 98 was $114,764-31 (not including recruitment advertising). These advertisements were of a non-campaign nature and were placed through the central advertising system.

Recruitment advertising

During 1997-98 the Employment Advocate spent a total of $138,278.07 on advertisements for recruitment purposes in the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette and the press.

Campaign adverti si ng

During the reporting period, developmental work was undertaken for a planned advertising campaign to raise awareness of AWAs, freedom of association and the role of i the Employment Advocate.

Four advertising agencies ‘pitched’ concepts for the campaign. A pitch fee of $5,000 was I paid to each of three agencies during the reporting period (a total of $15,000).

Other advertising

The total cost of print advertising not placed through the central advertising system paid by the Employment Advocate in 1997-98 was $5,350.

That advertising not placed through the central advertising system was placed directly in a number of journals with a readership amongst the clients of the OEA. After consultation with TMP Worldwide (the Government’s master agency for non-campaign advertising), it was decided to place this advertising directly in order to take advantage

of discounted offers.

In addition, $500 was spent on radio advertising during the period. This advertising was I not placed through the central advertising system, but was placed directly with the broadcaster concerned in order to take advantage of a discounted offer.

Market research

During 1997-98 Brian Sweeney and Associates was commissioned to conduct research designed to:

• provide the OEA with information about attitudes to, and understanding of, the OEA, AWAs and freedom of association within the target audiences;

• assist in the development of an advertising campaign and the OEA’s broader communications strategy; and

establish a benchmark against which the strategy implementation may be evaluated.

The total cost of this research paid during 1997-98 was $71,700.

Brian Sweeney and Associates was subsequently engaged to undertake concept testing associated with the selection of an advertising agency for the planned advertising campaign and the further development of the campaign. No payments were made under this contract during 1997-98.

Eureka Strategic Research was engaged to undertake research related to the development of the Employment Advocate’s Service Charter.

The total cost of this research paid during 1997-98 was $23,500.

Consultants A total of 68 consultants were engaged in 1997-98 at a total cost of $2,228, 471.53. The largest proportion of this expenditure related to the development of AWAMS and to the outsourced scanning and data entry of AWAs lodged with the OEA.

Access a n d equity O u t c o m e s report ing

1997-98 was the first full year of reporting for the OEA. Issues of concern from previous Access and Equity reporting have been considered by the OEA in developing its strategies as an agency operating in a culturally diverse society.

The OEA is now collecting from employers information about the non-English speaking background (NESB) status of the employee parties to AWAs. This will allow the OEA to analyse information on AWAs with NESB status as a research parameter.

Practical i mp l e m e n t a t i o n

1. Contracted Advisory Services When the Employment Advocate performs his legislative functions he must pay particular regard to the needs of workers in a disadvantaged bargaining position.

A key strategy in 1997-98 for the OEA has been a pilot program contracting community organisations to deliver assistance and advisory services on AWAs and other related matters to such workers.

The OEA has funded projects to a value of $661,162 in community organisations in all States and Territories except Western Australia. No tender applications were received from Western Australia. Contracts operate from 1 January 1998 to 31 December 1998.

The range of services available include:

telephone assistance and referral;

initial legal advice on AWAs and related matters;

• community education workshops;

• cinema advertising publicising the services to workers;

• development of a resource kit for community legal centres in Victoria;

• development of information materials in Braille, in audio cassette and in large print; and

• production of a series of radio programs in 3 community languages.

The impact of this pilot program will be assessed and a decision on further funding made later in the 1998 calendar year.

2. National Telephone Enquiry Service (NTES) Employers and employees from anywhere in Australia are able to contact the OEA for advice and assistance for the cost of a local call.

Staff on the NTES are able to use a telephone interpreting service if required.

3. Translated publications The OEA produces an Information Statement for Employees and the Workplace Relations Act 1996 requires employers to provide each employee with a copy of this publication before they sign an AWA. Supplies of this publication are available at no cost and this publication includes information on how to contact the OEA through a

telephone interpreting service in community languages. The interpreting costs are borne by the OEA.

Translated versions of the Information Statement for Employees are available on request.

The OEA currently sends a letter to all employees who are parties to a filed AWA as a step in its assessment process. Information about contacting the OEA via the telephone interpreting service is included with this letter in 15 community languages.

Appendix 1

Staffing overview

Table 5: Total staffing (permanent and temporary) by classification, gender and location - 30 June 1998

WA SA ACT NSW

(includes

national

office)

1

2

3

Male SES 2

Female SES 2

Male SES 1

Female SES 1

Male Legal Manager

Female Legal Manager

Male OEA Manager 2

Female OEA Manager 2

Male OEA Manager 1

Female OEA Manager 1

Male OEA6

Female OEA6

Male OEA5

Female OEA5

Male OEA4

Female OEA4

Male OEA3

Female OEA3

Male OEA2

Female OEA2

TOTAL

1

1 1

1 1

1 5 3 1

1 3

1

1 2 2 1

3

4

1 1 4

1 3

2 1 1 4

1 1 7

3

1

5

2 1 2 5

2

3

1

5 4 5 51

In addition to the Employment Advocate, who is a statutory office holder, 91 staff were employed as at 30 June 1998, of whom 44 were female and 47 male.

All staff, except one in New South Wales, were employed on a full-time basis under the Public Service Act 1922.

As at 30 June 1998, the Senior Executive Service (SES) comprised 1 SES Band 2, and 2 SES Band 1 staff, all of whom were males. The positions were filled by appointment (1) and temporary transfer (2). There were no SES losses in 1997-98.

Summary St atements

Performance Pay

Under the Continuing Improvement in the APS Enterprise Agreement 1995-96, SES employees may qualify for performance pay. In 1997-98 $4,531.00 performance pay was paid to one SES employee.

As part of the AWAs with staff, a total of 10 staff were paid personal bonuses totalling $15,000.

Training

The 1997-98 Human Resource Development Strategy for the OEA was developed in consultation with staff. The goal of the strategy was to identify immediate professional development needs (encompassing training, development or education needs) to be addressed by June 1998, and longer-term needs to be addressed from July 1998 in the next strategy. Where groups of staff shared similar needs they were to be addressed in a co-ordinated manner, and other individual needs were to be addressed on a one-off basis.

The process of developing the strategy recognised the importance of staff and their managers/supervisors working together to identify professional development needs, and the value in the OEA adopting a strategic approach to meeting identified needs. It was developed following input from external specialists in the field of adult education, and incorporated comments from staff.

The total identified cost (including salaries) of staff attendance at training activities in 1997-98 was $315,268. This expenditure equates to 7.8 per cent of 1997-98 salary expenditure. This compares very favourably with the old Training Guarantee Act benchmark of 3 per cent, and with Australian best practice, and reflects the OEA’s high level of commitment to training its staff.

Appendix 2

Office of the Employment Advocate Corporate Plan 1997-98 The Office of the Employment Advocate's Corporate Planning Process

The Office of the Employment Advocate was established early in 1997. A high priority was the development of this first Corporate Plan, which is in effect for the 12 month period from 1 July 1997 to 30 June 1998.

As the Office of the Employment Advocate is a new agency operating under new legislation the Corporate Plan will be a living document. It will be reviewed and revised if necessary towards the end of 1997, and at the conclusion of its operation by mid-1998.

The Corporate Plan is a key element of the Office of the Employment Advocate’s performance management systems. It will form the foundation upon which individual work unit Business Plans are developed, and upon which the 1997-98 Annual Report is based.

In 1997-98 the Office of the Employment Advocate will be developing internal budgetary arrangements, a staff performance management system, policies on core business and corporate activities and a service charter, all of which will support the

achievement of the objectives of the Corporate Plan.

Of f ice of the Employment A d v o c a t e Mission

Helping employers and employees to achieve better workplaces

Of f ice of the Employment A d v o c a t e Values

The Office of the Employment Advocate is committed to reflecting the APS values that will be incorporated in the Public Service Act 1997. In addition, staff will be expected to hold the following values in undertaking their functions:

• Integrity

• Even handed approach

• Responsive to client needs

• Flexible and efficient internal management

• Innovative in our work while learning from others

• Fair, flexible, rewarding and safe environment for Office of the Employment Advocate employees

The Operating Environment

The Office of the Employment Advocate is a new organisation - at 1 July 1997, the Office of the Employment Advocate will have been operating for three and a half months.

The Office of the Employment Advocate’s overall role is also new. While other organisations at the State and federal level perform functions that are comparable in some respects to those performed by the Office of the Employment Advocate, the combination of functions with which the Office of the Employment Advocate is charged is unique. Moreover, those functions are being undertaken under new legislation.

Factors that may have an effect on the Office of the Employment Advocate in the year ahead include:

• how the participants in the industrial relations system respond to the new federal legislation;

• how Courts and tribunals interpret the new federal legislation;

• any further changes in the industrial relations system at either the federal or State levels;

• the Government’s reforms to the Australian Public Service.

The Office of the Employment Advocate’s planning for the year ahead will therefore need the flexibility to respond to such factors.

Responses to the new legislation The Office of the Employment Advocate has particular roles in relation to two aspects of the new legislation - Australian workplace agreements (AWAs) and freedom of association.

The introduction of AWAs and the changes to the freedom of association provisions of the Act are part of broader reforms to the industrial relations legislative framework designed to support a more direct relationship between employers and employees, with a much reduced role for third party intervention and greater labour market flexibility.

In particular, the new workplace relations legislation offers the parties a range of choices in relation to regulating terms and conditions of employment. The parties are able to rely on awards, either with or without informal overaward arrangements, or to make formal agreements under the Act. The Act provides for AWAs - individual agreements between employers and employees - and certified agreements - collective agreements between employers and unions or between employers and employees. In addition, the parties are able to move from federal awards to State agreements in some circumstances. The simplification of awards, which is a key area of reform, may affect the extent to which the parties choose to make formal agreements. The type of agreement adopted in particular workplaces will reflect their preferences, the needs of their workplaces and

their perceptions of and experiences with the various agreement streams.

All of this means that it is difficult for the Office of the Employment Advocate to predict with any certainty the level of interest in and take-up rate of AWAs. The Office of the Employment Advocate’s work planning in relation to filing and approving AWAs, and more generally in relation to providing advice and assistance to the parties in this

area, will need to be flexible and able to accommodate and respond to the choices of workplace parties.

In the area of freedom of association, the legislation gives employers and employees the choice to join or not to join an employer association or a union, and greater choice in relation to which employer association or union to join. Closed shops have been a significant feature of some industries in the past. There will be an important role for the

Office of the Employment Advocate in raising the level of awareness and understanding of the new laws amongst employers, employer associations, employees and unions. Workload levels generally and the balance between educative and enforcement activities will depend on the response of the various parties to the new legislation.

Courts’ and tribunals’ interpretation of the new legislation The freedom of association provisions enable the Employment Advocate to make applications to the Federal Court for orders in respect of conduct in contravention of the provisions. The Court’s decisions - for example, the circumstances in which it will

consider it appropriate to make orders, and the types of orders it will be prepared to make in particular circumstances - will influence the Office of the Employment Advocate’s approach to overseeing the freedom of association provisions and the extent to which legal action is appropriate in particular cases.

Decisions by the courts in relation to the AWA provisions will also affect the Office of the Employment Advocate’s operations, for example, in their interpretation of concepts such as “duress", which are not defined in the Act. The Office of the Employment Advocate will need to monitor such decisions and ensure these are reflected in its advisory, approval, compliance and legal representation activities.

Decisions of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission will also affect the Office of the Employment Advocate. For example, its decisions in relation to award simplification or increases in award rates of pay may affect the parties’ interest in and capacity to make AWAs.

Further changes in the industrial relations system Further changes to the industrial relations legislative framework at both the federal and State level have been mooted. The Government has introduced into Parliament technical amendments to the Workplace Relations Act, and the Act allows scope for complementary State legislation to broaden access to AWAs. Such legislation has been passed in Queensland and introduced into the South Australian parliament. To the

extent that AWAs are more widely available, the Office of the Employment Advocate’s potential client base and potential workload will increase. Importantly, increases in

potential client bases and workload will not necessarily be reflected in actual increases in these areas; this will depend on a range of other factors, including other options available to the parties and their preferences.

Australian Public Service reforms The Government has foreshadowed wide-ranging reforms to the Australian Public Service (APS), including a new Public Service Act, a revised classification structure, and scope for agreements, including AWAs, to be made at the agency level. Agencies will be able to include flexible remuneration packaging in their agreements.

These reforms will affect the Office of the Employment Advocate in two ways. As an APS agency, the Office of the Employment Advocate will be able to implement the reforms, including by making agreements with its own staff. As the agency responsible for filing and approving AWAs, the availability of and the Government’s support for AWAs in the APS means that there is a large potential client base.

Key Perform ance Area 1: Assessing AWAs

Objective:

Strategy 1 Strategy 2 Strategy 3 Strategy 4

PERFORMANCE INDICATORS

Assess Australian workplace agreements, to ensure they meet the no-disadvantage test and other statutory requirements, within timelines and service standards that meet clients’ expectations. Maintain and apply policies and procedures for AWA assessment Develop and maintain systems to support AWA processes Have trained and professional staff to process AWA workloads Monitor and analyse the operation of AWA provisions

O utputs

1. Filing of AWAs

2. Designated Awards 3. AWA Approvals O utcom es

4. Client Satisfaction

5. Legislation Compliance

O u tp u t m easures

(OEA days are working days and do not include time waiting for information from employer) 1.1 New employees 100 per cent completed within 2 OEA days 1.2 Existing employees 100 per cent completed within 3 OEA days 2.1 90 per cent completed within 3 OEA days 3.1 80 per cent completed within 20 OEA days O utcom e m easures

4· 1 Implement a survey to determine client satisfaction and improvements to services 5.1 Implement an internal audit program to ensure AWA decisions comply with legislation

Key Performance Area 2: Compliance Activities

Objectives:

Strategy 1:

Strategy 2:

Strategy 3:

PERFORMANCE INDICATORS

1. Response to inquiries and complaints 2. Litigation 3. Lack of repeat business 4. Training and availability

of staff 5. Workplace visits

1) Foster high levels of compliance with the FOA and related provisions of the WRA, the AWA provisions and AWAs.

2) Deal with breaches of the FOA and related provisions and AWAs in a timely manner.

Ensure that there are OEA officers (or external where appropriate) trained and available to respond to compliance complaints.

Promote voluntary compliance, with legal action pursued only where appropriate.

Programming regular workplace visits targeted at industries of concern.

Initial acknowledgment within 24 hours and initial action (for example provision of advice) within 72 hours.

Successful outcomes in 75 per cent of applications to Federal Court. Less than 10 per cent of complainants make second complaint. Complete recruiting of internal and external staff and complete internal and external staff training by 30 October 1997

* Respond to 85 per cent of appropriate request for workplace visits

within 14 days * Complete 80 workplace visits per year

Key Performance Area 3: Assistance And Advice

Objectives:

Strategy 1

Strategy 2

Strategy 3

Strategy 4

Strategy 5 Strategy 6

1) Assist employees (particularly those in a disadvantaged bargaining position) and employers (particularly those in small business) to understand their rights and obligations under the Workplace Relations Act, especially in relation to AWAs and Freedom of Association.

2) Promote better work and management practices through AWAs, including balancing work and family responsibilities.

Fund a number of community based organisations to provide advisory and assistance function on behalf of the OEA Conduct seminars and workshops, as well as responding to requests to speak to other organisations Respond to ad hoc advisory and assistance requests, primarily through State and Territory offices and National Telephone Enquiry Service Develop, maintain and distribute good quality, user friendly publications Establish and maintain Internet home page Conduct a broad information and education program to increase knowledge and awareness of legislation including FOA provisions and OEA.

PERFORMANCE INDICATORS 1. Number of clients assisted 3,500 clients directly assisted through contracted advisory services 2. Satisfaction of clients 80 per cent client satisfaction with OEA’s assistance and advisory activities (as determined through client surveys) 3. Distribution of publications 50,000 AWA information kits

5.000 How-to guides 50.000 FOA Brochures

4. Seminars and Workshops 40 Workshops to be conducted for 600 clients

Key Performance Area 4 : Development of OEA Organisation

Objectives:

Strategy 1

Strategy 2

Strategy 3

Strategy 4

Strategy 5

Ensure that the OEA has the people, technology, resources and strategic partnerships needed to achieve its objectives.

Develop OEA as a model employer.

Maximise staff’s contribution to OEA through effective staff selections, human resource development activities and implementation of a staff performance management system Provision of information technology systems which support and

enhance the achievement of OEA’s objectives Efficient and effective management of OEA’s financial and physical resources Identification of potential areas of strategic allegiances and

development of partnerships with appropriate agencies Implementation of best practice management and communication systems, aligning the interests of OEA and staff

PERFORMANCE INDICATORS

1. Staff effectiveness 1.

2. Information 2.

technology systems

2.2

3. Financial resources 3.

4. Strategic allegiances 4.

5. Staff AWAs 5.

Development of a performance management system and salary structure by December 1997 Development of AWAMS by October 1997, and a range of additional information technology systems by June 1998 to meet management and staff requirements Unscheduled computer down-time not to exceed 2 per cent of

working time Monthly reporting of actual expenditure levels and analysis of significant variations from projections within 5 OEA days Each strategic partnership to be evaluated by June 1998

Approval by December 1997 of AWAs for OEA staff which result in improvements in OEA efficiency and productivity, and in quality of staff’s working life

Appendix 3

S ervice C harter The charter

The services covered by this charter can be summarised as follows:

• filing and approving Australian workplace agreements (AWAs), ensuring that they meet all statutory requirements;

• providing assistance and advice to employers (especially in small business) and employees on the Workplace Relations Act 1996, Australian workplace agreements (AWAs), the no-disadvantage test, and the freedom of association provisions;

• dealing with alleged breaches of AWAs and the freedom of association provisions; and

• assisting parties in relation to alleged breaches of the AWA provisions and the freedom of association provisions, where appropriate.

The charter was developed in consultation with the Office of the Employment Advocate’s (OEA’s) customers and staff. Consultation with customers occurred through focus group activities and through feedback after the delivery of services, for example, a sample of customers was contacted after telephone enquiries and after the approval of AWAs.

Values of the OEA

We value:

• integrity

• an even handed approach

• responsiveness to client needs

• flexible and efficient internal management

• innovation in our work while learning from others

• providing a fair, flexible, rewarding and safe environment for our employees

Our customers have these rights

• the identity of parties to AWAs will not be disclosed, without the prior consent of AWA parties

• we will respect your rights to privacy and confidentiality

• you will be able to obtain information about your rights and obligations under the legislation from the sources listed in the information section below

We ask that you

• be truthful in your dealings with the OEA

• provide timely and accurate information

• treat the OEA’s staff with courtesy

OEA s er vi c e del i v er y standards

Timeframes for service delivery are expressed in working days from the receipt of your communication, and do not include time waiting for information from employers, employees or other customers which delay the provision of our service.

The OEA’s service delivery standards include:

• attending reception counters from 8.30am to 5.00pm each business day in all offices except the Northern Territory, which will be attended from 8.00am to 4.30pm

• being contactable by telephone, fax, email or in person during the above business hours

• identifying ourselves to you over the telephone, at the counter and when we visit workplaces including a contact name and telephone number on all our communications

• referring you to the appropriate organisation where it is not appropriate for us to

help you

• finalising at least 75 per cent of calls to the National Telephone Enquiry Service or

Regional Offices within 24 hours

• responding to 95 per cent of written correspondence within 5 working days - if the matter cannot be finalised the response will include a plan of action

• filing at least 80 per cent of AWA applications within 3 working days from receipt at

the OEA’s national mailing address

• approving at least 80 per cent of AWA applications within 20 working days - an overview of AWA processing is provided later in the Service Charter

• visiting at least 80 per cent of workplaces where requested on freedom of association and AWA compliance matters within 5 working days

• acknowledging the receipt of complaints to the Employment Advocate within 24 hours, and responding to complaints within 10 working days

Our c us to me rs can e x p e c t the OEA to

• treat you fairly, reasonably and with courtesy

• obtain all information from you on a single occasion wherever possible

• undertake informal liaison with you wherever possible

• keep you informed of progress with your matter

• provide user friendly forms, with user participation in their development

• develop electronic lodgement facilities for AWA applications

• have particular regard to

- the needs of employees in a disadvantaged bargaining position, for example women, people from a non-English speaking background, young people, apprentices, trainees and outworkers

- assisting employees to balance work and family responsibilities, by for example providing information on ways that employers and employees can negotiate mutually beneficial work practices, such as flexible working hours, working from home, and job sharing that help both employers, and employees with work and family responsibilities

- promoting better work and management practices through AWAs

Customer c o mm e n ts

We welcome customer feedback, and encourage customers and customer representatives to provide informal or formal comments through the Regional Manager at their nearest office (see over for contact details). The OEA currently conducts a survey of customers after their AWA is approved, and will be expanding this approach to other activities.

Customer compl ai nt s

If we fail to meet these standards you should

• first try to sort out your concern with the staff member that you’re dealing with

• talk to that staff member’s manager if you’re not satisfied

• if you are still not satisfied, or if the above suggestions are not appropriate in the circumstances, write to the Employment Advocate at GPO Box 9842, Sydney 2001

The Employment Advocate will acknowledge receipt of your complaint within 24 hours, and will respond to your complaint within 10 working days of its receipt. If you are not satisfied with the Employment Advocate’s response you may refer the matter to the Commonwealth Ombudsman who will investigate your complaint, and (if appropriate) recommend a course of action to the Employment Advocate.

Monitoring and revi ew

The OEA monitors and reports on its performance against undertakings made in the Charter in the following ways:

• in the Annual Report

• in monthly reports to the Minister for Workplace Relations and Small Business

This Charter was published in August 1998. The terms of the Charter and its effectiveness will be monitored and the Charter will be reviewed in August 1999. The OEA will invite comments from customers, stakeholders and staff as part of this process.

The charter will be reviewed by the OEA’s internal auditor (currently KPMG) at least every two years.

Customer c o n s u lt a t i o n

Currently, there are no mechanisms for outside participation in the decision making processes of the Employment Advocate. The Workplace Relations Act 1996 (s. 83BS) prevents the Employment Advocate and OEA staff from disclosing any information that could identify a person as being, or having been, a party to an AWA. In addition the

Employment Advocate has a responsibility to protect the privacy of those making enquiries or complaints with respect to freedom of association. This effectively means that there is little, if any, scope for outside participation in the decision-making process.

The Employment Advocate has, however, consulted customers in the development of this service charter. In addition, stakeholders will be consulted wherever appropriate, for example, in the context of developing and reviewing publications.

The Of f ice of the Empl oyment A d v o c a te

Our mission is ‘Helping employers and employees to achieve better workplaces .

The Office of the Employment Advocate is an independent agency of approximately 100 employees nationwide within the Department of Workplace Relations and Small Business.

Our staff have backgrounds in industrial relations, human resource management, law, legislative compliance, business, and public administration. The Employment Advocate

is a Statutory Office holder.

AWA processing

Stage one - receipting and filing AWAs All AWAs and associated documentation are converted into electronic images at the OEA’s scanning centre. Generally the electronic image will be available at the regional offices 1-2 days after receipt, when the filing requirements in the Workplace Relations Act are checked for each AWA. In the event that the filing requirements are not met,

the requirement may be waived or the AWA may be returned for rectification. A receipt is issued for each AWA filed.

Stage two - Additional approval requirements After filing, an assessment is made of the additional approval requirements under the Act, which, among others things, include genuine consent, employer explanation of the effect of the AWA, and any reason for not offering comparable employees an AWA in

the same terms.

To assist the OEA in assessing these additional approval requirements a letter is generally forwarded to each employee. This provides the opportunity for employees to raise any concerns with the OEA in relation to the AWA, or the process of making the AWA. Each employee is generally provided with 14 days to respond to this letter. Responses raising substantive issues under the Act are pursued.

Stage three - No Disadvantage Test Assessment An assessment of whether the AWA meets the no-disadvantage test is also required prior to approval. This assessment involves determining the appropriate award and comparing the award with the AWA. Depending on the outcome of this assessment and the information provided, staff may need to consult with the employer and/or employee on issues such as working pattern arrangements, value of non-monetary benefits, intent of AWA provisions or award benefits applicable to the employee’s work.

If the Employment Advocate has concerns about whether the AWA meets the no disadvantage test, these may be resolved through either a written undertaking from the employer or other action by the parties. If the concerns cannot be resolved in this manner, the Employment Advocate must refer the AWA to the Australian Industrial Relations Commission.

Prompt responses to requests from OEA staff for information required in the AWA process will help in processing your AWA in a timely manner.

Protecting confidential information

The OEA is careful to ensure confidentiality concerning the parties to AWAs. When enquiries are made about specific AWAs, customer service staff are required to verify the identity of the person making the enquiry prior to providing any information, even the existence of an AWA. To determine identity of the enquirer, customer service staff may

request the provision of information known only to the parties or to an authorised person. Once the identity of the enquirer is established, customer service staff must confirm that, if the enquirer is not a party to the AWA, they have been authorised by a party in writing. In addition, the OEA provides reference numbers to the parties, which

may also be used to verify the bona fides of enquirers.

Need more i nformation?

• You can call the OEA from anywhere in Australia for the cost of a local call on 1300 366 632

• You can fax the OEA on AWA matters from anywhere in Australia for the cost of a local call on 1300 366 631

• Information on the OEA can be accessed via its Internet home page at http:// www.oea.gov.au

• The national mailing address for lodging AWAs and related documents is

Locked Bag 12 Marrickville NSW 2204

• The OEA’s Regional Managers are located in each capital city as follows

GPO Box 9842 In your capital city

New South Wales 7 th Floor Tower 477 Pitt Street SYDNEY NSW 2000 (02) 9282 0877

Queensland 10th Floor Citibank Building 199 Charlotte Street

BRISBANE QUEENSLAND 4000 (07) 3231 2572

Western Australia 1st Floor Dumas House 2 Havelock Street

WEST PERTH WA 6005 (08) 9321 3099

Victoria Level 9 Customs House 414 Latrobe Street MELBOURNE VIC 3000 (03) 9642 1056

South Australia Level 3 1 Richmond Road KESWICK SA 5035 (08) 8303 0202

Australian Capital Territory 1st Floor Garema Court 148-180 City Walk CANBERRA ACT 2601

(02) 6243 7216

• Wherever possible, the Office of the Employment Advocate will meet requests for access to documents that satisfy the requirements of Freedom of Information Act 1982 by posting a copy of the document to the address specified on the request. Where physical access to a document is required, it will be provided at the closest Regional Office to the applicant’s address.

• Copies of the AWA Information Kits are available free of charge on request at any of the Office of the Employment Advocate’s offices or for the cost of a local call on

1300 363 471.

Tasmania Level 6 85 Macquarie Street HOBART TAS 7000 (03) 6235 1960

Northern Territory Kriewaldt Chambers 6 Searcy Street DARWIN NT 0800 (08) 8946 1640

Appendix 4

Freedom of Information The Freedom of Information Act 1982 requires Commonwealth Government Agencies to include information in their Annual Reports about:

• the organisation and functions of the agency;

• arrangements which exist for outside participation in agency decision making;

• the category of documents that the agency possesses, and

• how people can gain access to information held by the agency.

1. Structure and f u nc ti on s of the a g e nc y

The Employment Advocate’s head office is located in Sydney, as is the NSW regional office. In addition, the Employment Advocate has regional offices in each State and Territory capital city.

The Office of the Employment Advocate is comprised of four branches, the: Workplace Agreements Branch, Legal and Compliance Branch, Advisory and Agreements Policy Branch and Corporate Planning and Services Branch. The Executive Officers of all branches are located at the head office in Sydney.

The Workplace Agreements Branch also operates the National Telephone Enquiry Service which is located in Sydney. Staff of the Workplace Agreements Branch also operate in each regional office. Legal and Compliance Branch is primarily based in the head office, with staff also located in Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Canberra, Darwin and Perth.

The functions of the Employment Advocate are set out in section 83 BB of the Workplace Relations Act 1996. In summary the Employment Advocate’s principal functions are:

• providing assistance and advice to employees and employers on the Workplace

Relations Act 1996;

• performing functions relating to the filing and approval of AWAs and ancillary

documents;

• investigating alleged breaches of AWAs and alleged contraventions of Part V1D of

the Workplace Relations Act 1996;

• investigating contraventions of Part XA of the Workplace Relations Act 1996; and

• providing free legal representation to a party in a proceeding under Part VID or Part XA of the Workplace Relations Act 1996 in some circumstances.

In performing these functions the Employment Advocate is required to pay particular regard to the needs of workers in disadvantaged bargaining positions, assist workers to balance work and family responsibilities, promote better work and management practices through AWAs, and to have special regard to employers in small business.

As indicated earlier in this report certain officers of the OEA have responsibilities to investigate contraventions of certain provisions of the Workplace Relations Act 1996 and the National Code of Practice for the Construction Industry which are independent of

the functions of the Employment Advocate.

2. Arrangement s for out si d e participation

Currently, there are no mechanisms for outside participation in the decision-making processes of the Employment Advocate. The Workplace Relations Act 1996 (section 83 BS) prevents the Employment Advocate and his staff from disclosing any information that could identify a person as being, or having been, a party to an AWA. In addition the Employment Advocate has a responsibility to protect the privacy of those making enquiries or complaints with respect to freedom of association. This effectively means that there is little, if any, scope for outside participation in the decision-making process.

During 1997-98 focus groups were developed, by external consultants, to assist in the development of a Service Charter. It is expected that this Service Charter will be published early in 1998-99. In addition, stakeholders will be consulted wherever appropriate, for example, in the context of developing and reviewing publications.

3. Categori es o f d o c u me n t s

The Employment Advocate and the OEA maintain the following broad categories of documents:

A. Those which may be made available under the Freedom of Information Act 1982:

• reference material used by staff;

• internal administration (finance, personnel and similar documents);

• AWA procedures manual; and

B. Those which are made freely available to clients upon request:

• AWA information kits including:

- Australian workplace agreements - How-to Guide;

- Australian workplace agreements - Information Statement for Employees;

- Australian workplace agreements - Employer Filing Application;

• freedom of association pamphlets; and

• other policy and information documents, including the OEA’s Corporate Plan and Service Charter.

C. Documents created or obtained during the conduct of investigation of alleged contraventions of the Workplace Relations Act 1996 or the National Code of Practice for the Construction Industry. Such documents would usually be considered to be exempt documents and therefore not subject to disclosure under the Freedom of

Information Act 1982.

4. How p e o p l e a c c e s s i nf ormati on

Wherever possible, the Employment Advocate will meet requests for access to documents that satisfy the requirements of Freedom of Information Act 1982 by posting a copy of the document to the address specified on the request. Where physical access to an original document is required, it will be provided at the closest regional office to the

applicant’s address.

Initial enquiries should be directed to the State or Territory regional manager, or to the Freedom of Information Coordinator at the national office.

Applicants may discuss the nature and scope of an intended request or seek advice on freedom of information matters from the Freedom of Information Coordinator. Where possible, assistance will be provided to identify relevant documents.

A list of regional office addresses and contact telephone numbers is listed at Appendix 4. Copies of the AWA information kits and freedom of association pamphlets are available free of charge on request at any OEA office.

Appendix 5

Office of the Employment Advocate For general correspondence

GPO Box 9842 In your capital city

For lodgement of AWAs

Locked Bag 12 MARRICKVILLE NSW 2204

National Telephone Enquiry Service 1300 366 632

For copies of the AWA How-to guide, the Information Statement for Employees and Employer Filing Application Forms

1300 363 471

Website http//:www.oea.gov.au

Of f ice of the Employment Advocat e: regional offices

New South Wales 7 th Floor, Tower Sydney Central Building 477 Pitt S treet. SYDNEY NSW 2000 Ph: (02) 9282 0877

Queensland 10th Floor Citibank Building 199 Charlotte Street BRISBANE QLD 4000 Ph: (07)3231 2572

Western Australia 1st Floor, Dumas House 2 Havelock Street WEST PERTH WA 6005 Ph: (08) 9321 3099

Victoria Level 9 Customs House 414 Latrobe Street MELBOURNE VIC 3000 Ph: (03) 9642 1056

South Australia Level 3 1 Richmond Road KESWICK SA 5035 Ph: (08) 8303 0202

Tasmania Level 6 85 Macquarie Street HOBART TAS 7000 Ph: (03) 6235 1960

Northern Territory Kriewaldt Chambers 6 Searcy Street DARWIN NT 0800 Ph: (08) 8946 1640

Australian Capital Territory 1st Floor Garema Court

148-180 City Walk CANBERRA ACT 2601 Ph: (02) 6243 7216

OMPLIANCE INDEX

Letter of transmission 3

Aids to access

• table of contents 4

• alphabetical index 70

• compliance index 67

Contact officer for information contained in report 2

Contact officer for additional information 8

Introduction 7

Corporate overview 9

• organisation chart 9

• social justice and equity 45

• internal and external scrutiny 8,*

Program performance reporting 19

Industrial democracy 10

Occupational health and safety 8,*

Freedom of information 63

Advertising and market research 44

Financial and staffing resources summary 8,*

Staffing overview 47

• performance pay 48

• staff training expenditure 48

• total number of employees by classification and location 47

• full-time and part-time staff numbers 48

• numbers employed under the Public Service Act 1922 48

• men and women and various categories of employment 47

• SES information 48

- level, gender 48

- gains and losses 48

- interchange program 48

• consultants 45

Financial matters 8,*

• audited financial statements 8,*

• claims and losses AOR

• purchasing AOR

• information technology purchasing arrangements AOR

• payment of accounts AOR

• consultants AOR

• capital works management AOR

Internal and external scrutiny 8,*

• fraud control AOR

• reports by the Auditor-General AOR

• inquiries by Parliamentary Committees AOR

• comments by Ombudsman AOR

decisions by Courts and Tribunals AOR

Privacy AOR

Environmental matters AOR

Other matters

• property usage AOR

• business regulations AOR

* The Department of Workplace Relations and Small Business’ Annual Report 1997­ 98 includes information on the Employment Advocate’s activities in these areas.

AOR This information is available on request.

INDEX access, 45-6 advertising, 34, 44 auditing, 10, 24, 59 Australian Industrial Relations Commission, 12, 14, 27, 51, 60 Australian Public Service (APS)

reforms, 10, 52 Australian workplace agreements, 50-1 access to documents and case studies, 37 analysis, 38

assessment and approval, 15-17, 19-21, 23-4, 60 breaches, 8, 12, 25 case studies, 37 designated awards, 15 filing, 12, 14, 60 filing process

case and information management, 13 delegations, 13-14 procedures manual, 13 number filed, 19, 21-2 research database, 38 research program, 37 statistics, 19, 21-2, 23-4, 39-44 Australian Workplace Agreements Management System (AWAMS), 13, 20, 21,35,36, 45 authorised officers, 12 award breaches, 12 AWAs. see Australian workplace agreements Branch Business Plans, 10 Brian Sweeney and Associates, 44, 45 budget, 8 case management, 13 case studies, 37 client satisfaction survey, 24 Code Monitoring Group (CMC), 11, 19 complaints, 25, 58 compliance, 8, 18, 24

activities, 25-9

Compliance Officers, 11 confidential information, 60 consultants, 45 contact officer, 8 contact offices, 7, 9, 61-2, 66 contracted advisory services, 30-1, 45-6 corporate governance, 9-11 Corporate Plan

1997- 98, 8,19, 49-55 1998- 99, 8-9 court proceedings, 27-8 customer consultation, 59 customer feedback, 58 customer rights, 57 delegations, 13-14

Department of Workplace Relations and Small Business (DWRSB), 7, 8, 11, 19, 29, 36 designated awards, 15, 22-3 discretionary grants, 19 document categories, 64-5 employees, 40-1 employers, 42-3 enquiries, 25 equity, 45-6 Eureka Strategic Research, 45 Executive, 10 freedom of association, 25, 26, 29, 50, 51 freedom of information, 63-5 Freedom of Information Act 1982, 64, 65 functions, 7-8, 11, 12, 29, 63-4 head office, 7, 9 industrial relations system, 51-2 information management, 13 Information Statement for Employees, 46 Information Technology Service Level Agreement, 36 inspectors, 11, 12 Internal Audit Committee, 10 Internet website, 8, 34, 61 KPMG consultants, 10, 24, 59

Legal and Compliance Branch, 18 legislative amendments, 8, 12 market research, 44-5 Memorandum of Understanding

(MOU), 8, 11-12,29 Minister’s directions, 19 mission, 49, 59

monitoring and review, 59 National Code of Practice for the Construction Industry, 8, 11, 19, 27, 29, 64, 65

National Telephone Enquiry Service (NTES), 32-3, 46 National Union of Workers (NUW), 27 no-disadvantage test, 15, 16, 17, 60 operating environment, 50 organisational development, 35-7 organisational structure, 9 outcomes reporting, 45 performance indicators

AWA approvals, 23-4, 52 client satisfaction, 24, 52, 54 client satisfaction with NTES, 32-3

clients directly assisted, 30-1, 54 compliance, 24, 52, 53 designated awards, 22-3, 52 filing AWAs, 21-2, 52 financial resources, 36, 55

information technology, 35-6, 55 lack of repeat business, 29, 53 litigation, 28, 53 publications distribution, 33-4, 54

response to inquiries and complaints, 28, 53 staff AWAs, 37, 55 staff effectiveness, 35, 55

strategic partnerships, 36, 55 training and availability of staff, 29, 53 workplace visits, 29, 53 workshops, 32, 54

performance reporting assessing AWAs, 19-21, 52 assistance and advice, 29-34, 54 compliance activities, 25-9, 53 development of OEA organisation, 35-7,55

procedures manual, 13 Public Service Act 1922, 8, 48 publications, 33-4, 46, 54 refusal notice, 17

regional offices, 7, 9 research database, 38 research program, 37-8 responsibilities, 8

seminars, 31, 54 Senior Executive Service (SES), 48 Service Charter, 8, 45, 56-60, 64 Service Level Agreement (SLA), 36 speaking engagements, 31

staff appointment, 8 AWAs, 10-11,37, 55 code of conduct, 10 performance pay, 48

statistics, 47-8 training, 48 standards, 57 statistics AWAs

approvals, 23-4, 39 filed, 19,21-2 by sector, 43-4 state of origin, 39-40 complaints, 25 designated awards, 22-3 employees, 40-1

employers, 42-3 enquiries, 25 staff, 47-8 Transport Workers Union (TWU),

27, 28

values, 49, 56 voluntary compliance, 8 Workplace Relations Act 1996, 19, 32, 46, 65

actions under, 27-8 amendments, 8, 12, 50-1 authorised officers, 12 AWA approval requirements, 15, 16 compliance, 18, 24, 25-9 definition of new employee, 40 filing AWAs, 13, 14 Minister’s directions, 19 no-disadvantage test, 15 OEA functions, 7, 8, 11, 63-4 workers in disadvantaged bargaining position, 30 Workplace Relations and Small Business Portfolio Budget Statements, 8 workshops, 32, 54

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

PARLIAMENTARY PAPER No. 383 of 1998 ORDERED TO BE PRINTED

ISSN 0727-4181