New Offer for a Correctional Officer Enterprise Agreement
I write in relation to the negotiations for a replacement Correctional Officer Enterprise Agreement (EA), which commenced on 18 June 2021.
Outlined below are the terms of a ‘without prejudice’ offer for a new enterprise agreement to replace the existing Correctional Officer (NTPS) 2017 – 2021 Enterprise Agreement (‘the current Agreement’). This offer takes into account the United Workers Union (UWU) bargaining issues and claims and reflects the progress made during the negotiation meetings to date.
The offer is consistent with the NT Public Sector Wages Policy 2021-2024 and the NTPS Bargaining Policy 2021-2024, and the terms comprise a complete package of improvements and changes to terms and conditions of employment.
The content of the proposed offer reflects the discussions and collaborative approach that has occurred since the commencement of the negotiations. This means there has been:
- genuine consideration and time to discuss the unions’ claims, and employer proposals including NTPS sector-wide common conditions;
- sharing of information such as costing of claims and proposals; and
- consideration of operational information including the application and interpretation of current agreement provisions.
The proposed Agreement is one of the most family supportive public sector agreements in the nation and will provide employees with greater certainty regarding employment conditions during the next 4 years.
The proposals set out below include consideration of the log of claims received, which have been discussed during negotiation meetings, to be incorporated into a new agreement or addressed through other mechanisms.
- Term of Agreement
It is proposed the new agreement (the Agreement) will have a four-year term that will provide employees with job certainty and secured terms and conditions over this period.
- No involuntary redundancies for term of Agreement
There will be no involuntary redundancies (notice of redundancy) for the term of the Agreement. This will not apply to an employee declared potentially surplus to requirements under section 41 of the Public Sector Employment and Management Act 1993 (PSEM Act) and listed on the Office of the Commissioner for Public Employment (OCPE) Redeployment Database for longer than two years.
- Lump sum payment
There would be a $4,000 lump sum payment after the Agreement is voted up and $2,000 lump sum payments payable on the first pay period on or after 2 December in the years 2022, 2023 and 2024. Overall, employees would receive $10,000 over 4 years.
Employer superannuation guarantee is applicable to the lump sum payment. However, due to the rules of the defined benefit schemes, employer superannuation guarantee is not applicable to the lump sum paid to NTGPASS and CSS members.
To be eligible for the lump sum payment, employees must be employed on the date the payment is to be made as set out in the Agreement. The lump sum will be payable to employees who are on unpaid parental leave, unpaid personal leave or other leave without pay that is for a period of less than 4 weeks. Part time employees will be eligible for the full lump sum payment (i.e. not pro-rata)
Casual employees will be eligible for the lump sum payment if, within three months prior to the payment date they have: been paid for work; or performed duty which is due to be paid after the date of the lump sum payment.
Employees on multiple employment contracts (consistent with section 38A of the PSEM Act) will only be eligible for a single lump sum payment on each occasion in relation to the performance of work in classifications in the Agreement under all contracts of employment.
- Changes to Wages Policy during the term of the Agreement
Should there be a change to the Wages Policy during the term of the Agreement that provides for additional benefits above those contained in this offer (such as an increase to salaries above the value of the lump sum payment at point three of this offer) these will be passed on through a determination.
- Core Training Allowance
Introduction of a half day rate for Core Training Instructor Allowance. Where core training has been divided into sessions of half a day or less a half day core training instructor allowance will be paid instead of the full day rate.
- Definitions for Ongoing, Fixed Period and Casual employment
Proposed new clause to provide definitions of types of employment in the Agreement to be modelled on NTPS Enterprise Award 2016 and current NTPS 2017-2021 Enterprise Agreement, as well as the Determinations Numbered 9 of 2012 (Part-time employment) and 3 of 2012 (Casual employment).
This clause would incorporate a signpost clause to the Fair Work Act 2009 / National Employment Standards for casual conversion.
- Casual Employment
A new clause that defines a casual employee and how a casual employee will be paid.
Improved NTPS Common Conditions
- No reduction in current or future rights and entitlements
The Agreement would include a clause that there will be no reduction in current or future employee rights and entitlements as provided in the By-laws and Determination, including provision of allowances and leave arrangements for the term of the Agreement.
A new sub-clause will also be included providing that the Commissioner undertakes that for the term of this Agreement, general employment conditions specified in the PSEM By-laws and Determinations will not be varied without consultation and agreement with the affected parties prior to the formalisation of an amendment.
- Continue to increase allowances by Consumer Price Index (CPI)
The Agreement would continue CPI indexation of existing allowances in Determination Number 1 of 2021 that are adjusted by the September to September Darwin CPI. The allowances will not reduce if the Darwin CPI is negative.
- New Christmas Closedown Leave
A new entitlement providing paid Christmas Closedown Leave. Employees (excluding casuals), who are required to work during the closedown will be able to bank 22.8 hours of Christmas closedown leave (i.e. 3 days based on the ordinary weekly hours of 38 hours per week). This will be paid at the employee’s base salary including any allowance that counts as salary for all purposes.
For clarity, as this is not a typical leave entitlement, the banked leave must be taken within 12 months and doesn't accumulate; is not available to be taken at half pay; and is not paid out on cessation of employment.
- Improved Dispute Settling Procedures
The current provisions would be amended to allow all disputes regarding refusals for flexible work or to extend parental leave to be referred to arbitration by a party following unsuccessful attempts at internal resolution and conciliation. This change removes the current exemptions of these disputes provisions. An employee who has a grievance about their treatment in employment can choose to have the decision reviewed in accordance with section 59 of the PSEM Act.
- Improved Union delegate training leave – remove service requirements
The existing 12 month service requirement to be eligible for paid union delegate training leave would be removed. All other requirements will be retained (e.g. evidence employee has been nominated by the union to attend and of attendance at the course).
- Incorporate PSEM By-law leave entitlements in the Agreement
The following By-law entitlements will be incorporated into the Agreement:
- Defence Service Leave (By-law 14)
- Special Leave Without Pay (By-law 16)
- Leave to Attend Arbitration Business (By-law 17)
- Release to Attend as a Witness (By-law 21)
- Emergency Leave (By-law 15)
- Miscellaneous Leave (By-law 18)
Miscellaneous leave (By-law 18) entitlements would be set out in separate clauses, namely ‘Blood Donation Leave’ and ‘Leave to Engage in Voluntary Emergency Management Activities’ (See Item 18 below for an enhancement to this entitlement.)
- Improved leave for disabilities caused by war service (War Service Leave)
The existing entitlements, referenced in the current personal leave provisions but set out in Determination Number 6 of 2011, would be improved and included in the Agreement to support a comprehensive agreement. To assist veterans and agencies to apply the entitlements, the provisions would make it clear that ‘war service’ includes peace-keeping service and hazardous operational service.
The improvement will enable eligible employees to access their accrued war service leave (i.e. leave granted and accrued in relation to their original disability) for a further condition recognised as caused by war sometime after the recognition of the original disability (e.g. PTSD). Leave is currently only available in relation to the original disability.
- NEW – NAIDOC March and approved activities
This is a NEW entitlement. Paid NAIDOC leave would be available (up to 3 hours) to attend NAIDOC march and NAIDOC week activities. Paid leave will be approved where time off in lieu is not otherwise available.
- Foster and Kinship Carers leave
Foster Carer and Kinship Carers Leave, set out in Determination Number 7 of 2020, would be included in the Agreement to support a comprehensive agreement and the entitlements improved to provide 2 days paid leave (currently unpaid) to attend Permanent Care Order interviews.
- NEW - Gender Transition Leave
This is a NEW entitlement. Gender transition leave would be available to support employees who are transitioning their gender. Employees (excluding casuals) with at least 12 months service and who have commenced transitioning their gender, would be entitled to up to 12 months leave, inclusive of 4 weeks paid and 48 weeks unpaid. Additional paid leave may be granted by the CEO on a case‑by‑case basis.
- Leave to engage in voluntary emergency management activities
This is a new clause that transfers Miscellaneous Leave (By-law 18) in relation to volunteering for emergency management activities into the Agreement. The existing By-law provision will be updated to reflect current legislation and improved to include paid leave for reasonable rest time immediately following the employee’s participation in the emergency management activity.
- Improved Compassionate LeaveThere would be a number of improvements to compassionate leave as follows:
- 3 days increased to 5 days on the death or serious threat to life of the employee’s immediate family or household member, which will now include stillbirths;
- NEW – 3 days paid compassionate leave on the death of the employee’s (excluding casuals) extended family member. ‘Extended family member’ would be defined in the Agreement as meaning:
- a spouse of the employee’s child (e.g. son-in- law)
- a spouse of the employee’s sibling (e.g. sister-in-law)
- an aunt, uncle, niece, nephew or first cousin of the employee.
- NEW – 3 days paid leave if the employee or their partner experiences a miscarriage. The employee must provide a medical certificate from a medical practitioner stating that the employee’s pregnancy or the partner’s pregnancy has ended. Leave is unpaid for casual employees.
- NEW – Kinship Obligation Leave – Five days paid leave for Sorry Business
This is a NEW entitlement. The Australian First Nation’s definition of ‘kinship’ will be included in the Agreement for the purpose of providing up to 5 days paid leave per annum to attend ‘sorry business’ or related purposes. That definition is:
Australian First Nations kinship where there is a connection, relationship or obligation under the customs, traditions or cultures of the communities, groups or families to which the employee belongs.
The definition was developed by an extensive consultation process involving key Aboriginal NTPS representatives.
The 5 days will be in addition to compassionate leave, may be taken in broken periods and at half pay. The 5 days does not accrue and is not cumulative.
- Health Screening Leave – doubles existing entitlement
Currently one hour paid leave is available every two years for cancer screening under Miscellaneous Leave (By-law 18). The Agreement would replace this entitlement with a new ‘health screening leave’ that enables employees to access up to one hour of paid leave per year for the purpose of undertaking a health screening test associated with a public health screening program. A ‘health screening test’ means a diagnostic procedure or medical appointment undertaken to screen for cancer or mental health conditions. If an employee undertakes screening for cancer and mental health in the same year, the maximum entitlement is one hour of paid leave.
- Flexible Lifestyle (Purchased) Leave
This is an ENHANCED entitlement. Flexible Lifestyle (Purchased) Leave increased from six weeks to eight weeks to allow employees to purchase additional leave per year and to take the leave in blocks of two days.
This scheme enables employees to purchase more leave, through salary deductions, to be taken in the year it is purchased. Conditions will apply, including the requirement for employees to provide a written plan outlining how they intend to utilise the leave and the purchase must not result in an excess recreation leave balance.
- Parental Leave Improvements
- Employer superannuation contributions (SG) paid during Parental Leave
- i. NEW - Recognising the support parents need at the time of the birth / placement of their child, a new provision to pay SG during paid and unpaid Partner Leave during the first 12 months as if the employee had been at work. Employees will be eligible if their spouse is also a NTPS employee. (Note: employees taking Primary Caregiver Leave already have this entitlement).
- ii. NEW - Recognising that women’s superannuation earning capacity may reduce when on parental leave, to pay SG at double the legislated rate during a period of paid Primary Caregiver Leave (includes Special Maternity Leave (stillbirth)). Should the employee elect to take any paid parental leave at half pay, the double superannuation contributions will only be paid for a period that is equivalent to utilising the paid parental leave at full pay.
- Employer superannuation contributions (SG) paid during Parental Leave
- Primary Caregiver Parental Leave
Parental leave provisions have been updated to clarify that an employee on Partner Leave does not transfer to ‘Primary Caregiver Parental Leave' should they take over the carer responsibilities from their partner during the first 14 or 18 weeks following birth (or day of placement). This is how the clause currently operates and there is no change to these entitlements. The improved offer is providing, for the first time, employees on Partner Leave with employer superannuation payments at the normal legislated rate during their paid and unpaid Partner Leave (conditions apply). Access to combined parental leave is still available where the partner and primary carer are employed within the NTPS.
- Expanded definition of ‘continuous service’ under Parental Leave
To support employment mobility between different agencies within the broader NT Government context, the definition of ‘continuous service’ in the Parental Leave provisions would be expanded to recognise prior service with an agency for the purposes of the Financial Management Act 1995 (e.g. NT Police Force, Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority). This change would enable more employees to access paid parental leave entitlements or provide increased paid parental leave (e.g. with prior service recognised an employee can achieve 5 or more years’ service and be eligible for 18 weeks paid leave). Similar changes would be made to the definition of an ‘NTPS Employee Couple’ to enable NT Government employees to combine their paid parental leave entitlements.
- NEW - Returning from Parental Leave
Full-time employees returning from parental leave currently have a right ‘to request’ to convert to part-time employment on a temporary or permanent basis. Where the employee wishes to do so, the Agreement would provide a right to return on a part-time basis for up to 6 months. The provision will provide that the employee can return to the same job/ duties or alternative duties. If ‘alternative duties’ required to accommodate part-time, the employee will be paid their full rate of pay (for position they held before parental leave) for the hours worked whilst on transfer to alternative duties. A longer period may be requested and approved by the CEO.
- NEW - Pre-natal Leave
An employee, whose partner is pregnant, or a pregnant employee will be able to access up to 8 hours paid leave to attend pre-natal appointments. Casuals will have access to unpaid leave. Currently employees use personal or other leave or flextime to accommodate these appointments.
- Pre-adoption Leave
The Agreement would improve the existing entitlement for employees to enable up to 2 days paid leave (currently unpaid) to attend interviews or examinations required in order to obtain approval for the employee’s adoption of a child. Casual employees will be eligible for up to 2 days unpaid leave as per the current provisions.
- Domestic Family and Sexual Violence Provisions
The existing domestic and family violence provisions of the current Agreement would be expanded to include circumstances where employees have experienced sexual violence (i.e. sexual violence in non-domestic/family situations). The paid leave entitlements, currently provided in Miscellaneous Leave (By-law 18), will be included in the Agreement to support a comprehensive agreement. The CEO will retain the ability to approve uncapped paid leave for these purposes.
- Emergency Leave
The current By-law 15 Emergency Leave entitlement (providing 3 days emergency leave per annum) would be included in the Agreement with some modifications. The definition of what constitutes an ‘emergency’ is clarified for greater consistency in the application of the entitlement.
- Infectious Diseases
Pandemic events are rare and COVID-19 has shown that I am able to quickly and appropriately respond to rapidly changing circumstances to support employees with a range of entitlements using my powers under the PSEM Act.
Under the Infectious Diseases Leave provisions, a new clause will be included acknowledging that if an employee suffers an injury or disease in the course of their employment they may be eligible for workers compensation entitlements in accordance with the Return to Work Act 1986.
- NEW - Aboriginal recruitment, training and career progression
The Agreement would include a new sub clause under Training and Development that the parties acknowledge the NTPS Aboriginal Employment and Career Development Strategy for 2021 – 2025 as a key policy initiatives and legislation supporting Aboriginal recruitment, training and career progression.
- Appropriate Workplace Behaviour
Renamed as Safe and Health Work Environment. This clause provides a commitment to supporting sector-wide guidelines to ensure work health and safety of employees, including remote employees and where travelling for work is required.
- Integrity of Payments
NEW –to inform employees about the legal requirements under the Financial Management Act on the occasion they receive an overpayment or underpayment of salaries, a new provision to reference the appropriate legislation. The new provision amends the existing cl 47 Recovery of Overpayments.
- Commitment to Review Community Language Allowance
An NTPS review of Community Language Allowance (Determination Number 6 of 2013) will occur during the term of the new agreement and I commit to extending those allowance outcomes to NTCS employees once the review is complete.
Employer superannuation guarantee (SG) will be paid in accordance with federal legislation. This means legislated SG increases during the term of the Agreement will apply and that superannuation will only be paid up to the maximum contribution base even if an employee's ordinary time earnings (including allowances which count for purposes of superannuation) exceed this amount. For employees in defined benefit schemes (e. g. NTGPASS and CSS), superannuation will continue to apply in accordance with the rules of the relevant fund
Responses to Union Claims
- Recreation Leave Arrangements and Rostering
The restriction that the recreation leave roster cannot be cancelled within 84 days of the recreation leave occurring has been removed. The clause has reverted back to the recreation leave roster for the next calendar year to be drawn up in consultation with recognised Union delegates and posted by the end of September each year.
- Safe Staffing Model
The Operational Agreement clause will be replaced with a Safe Staffing Model clause. This clause will ensure there will be minimum safe staffing levels for the Darwin and Alice Springs Correctional Centres, and the Barkly and Datjala Work Camps. The parties acknowledge the need for regular and ongoing monitoring, assessment and review of the safe staffing levels and any variations will be through genuine consultation with the union.
In addition to item 13 above, under clause 7 Variation of Public Sector Employment and Management Act a new sub clause that states PSEM By-laws where relevant apply to employees covered by this agreement.
NTCS Commitment Letter
The CEO of the Department of the Attorney-General and Justice will provide a commitment letter retaining the following matters for the term of the new agreement:
Gym Membership - Gym membership reimbursements will continue with the current annual amounts remaining the same ($250 for DCC and $500 for ASCC). To support the well-being of employees, this provision provides reimbursement of up to 50% of registration costs (not to exceed the approved reimbursement amounts) with sporting clubs for player memberships and class based fitness sessions. This does not include the costs of purchasing related equipment (e.g. yoga mats, shoes).
Alice Springs Transport Service - The free transport service for Alice Springs based employees to and from the Alice Springs Correctional Centre will continue.
Spoilt Meal Orders - A replacement meal will be provided to an employee who has a meal spoilt where the employee has purchased a meal from the kitchen and has been redirected to another location without an opportunity to place the meal in a refrigerator, and the meal is then not safe to eat.
Attendance in Court as a Witness - Where an employee rostered on shift is required to attend court as a witness for a work related matter, the Department may allow them to report directly for duty at the court, and taking into account the circumstances of the court matter, and the emotional impact or distress it may cause, may provide time off from duty for up to the remainder of a shift, without the need to take leave.
Overtime for Travel Time – Correctional Officers required to backfill a shift on overtime may be paid overtime for up to 45 minutes prior to commencing their shift, where they have not been able to arrive for the scheduled shift commencement time (e.g. for a 7am start time – Employee called at 6.30am, arrives at 7.30am, will paid overtime from 7am – or – Employee called at 7am, arrives at 8am, will paid overtime from 7.15am).
To enable timely backfilling of shifts, and ameliorate the need to pay overtime for travel time, all officers unable to attend a shift will be required to ring in at least one hour prior to their scheduled commencement, unless exceptional circumstances prevail.
Last updated: 03 December 2021
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