Details of the Jacana Energy enterprise agreement offer
Negotiations for a new Jacana Energy enterprise agreement started on 9 March 2021.
On 13 July 2021 I put a ‘without prejudice’ offer for a new enterprise agreement to replace the existing 2017-2021 Jacana Energy Enterprise Agreement (‘the current Agreement’). This offer took into account the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) bargaining principles and claims of the other bargaining representatives, 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 terms comprise a complete package of improvements and changes to terms and conditions of employment.
This offer is designed so that there would be no involuntary redundancies as a consequence of implementing the proposed agreement.
- Term of Agreement
It is proposed the new agreement (‘the Agreement’) would have a four year term that would provide employees with job certainty and secured terms and conditions over this period.
- Lump sum payment
There would be a $1000 lump sum payment per annum with the first payment due after the Agreement has been approved by the Fair Work Commission. For the years 2022, 2023 and 2024 the annual payment would be made on the first pay day on or after 1 July of the applicable year.
Overall, employees would receive $4000 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.
- Redesign of the Individual Performance and Personal Development Plan (IPPDP)
Jacana Energy has redesigned the IPPDP to improve opportunities for employees through a less complex framework which is achievement focused. The new framework would improve recognition of solid performance overall (met rating), which would be more rewarding and increase employee engagement.
- New salary structure
In addition to the redesigned PDP Framework which has been provided to the union, bargaining representatives and employees, a new salary structure would be introduced to remove mid-point increments to enable more opportunities for incremental advancement. It would be implemented on 1 July 2022.
- Customer Care Advisor Allowance
There would be a new clause introducing a development pathway for JL1 employees in the customer care team who would be able to build supervisory and leadership capability, while undertaking a developmental role.
- Incorporate By-law leave and meal allowance entitlements into the Agreement
Under clause 5.2 of the current Agreement, leave without pay, miscellaneous leave and meal allowance entitlements refer to the By-laws. The detail of these entitlements would be included in the Agreement to support a comprehensive agreement.
Miscellaneous leave (By-law 18) entitlements would be set out in two separate clauses, namely ‘blood donation leave’ and ‘leave to engage in voluntary emergency management activities’. See Item 11 below for an enhancement to these existing entitlements.
- Leave for disabilities caused by war service (War Service Leave)
The existing entitlements, set out in Determination Number 6 of 2011, would be improved and included in the Agreement to support a comprehensive agreement. 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.
- 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 flextime or time off in lieu are not otherwise available.
- Foster Carer and Kinship Carer leave
Foster carer and kinship carer 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.
- Gender Transition Leave
This is a new entitlement. Gender transition leave would be available to support employees who wish to transition 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 would incorporate 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 an emergency management activity.
- Compassionate Leave
There 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 (refers to cl 49.2(a) of the current Agreement and replaces cl 49.4(a) where CEO has discretion to grant an extra 2 days of paid leave);
- NEW – 3 days paid compassionate leave on the death of the employee’s (excluding casuals) extended family member. ‘Extended family member’ means:
- 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.
- Health Screening Leave
Currently 1 hour paid leave is available every 2 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 2 hours 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 2 hours of paid leave.
- Flexible Lifestyle Leave
The ‘purchase of additional leave (purchased leave)’ in Schedule 5 clause 5.3 of the current Agreement would be re-named ‘flexible lifestyle leave’ and enhanced to allow employees to request up to 8 weeks of additional leave (currently maximum 6 weeks) per year. Further they would be able to take the leave in blocks of 2 days (the current provision is for a minimum block of 1 week).
This is a scheme that enables employees to purchase more leave, through salary deductions, to be taken in the year it is purchased. Conditions will apply, including a requirement for employees to provide a written plan outlining when they intend to take their leave. The purchased leave must not result in employees having an excess recreation leave balance.
- Returning from Parental Leave
Full-time employees returning from parental leave currently have a right to request to convert to part-time employment on fixed term or ongoing basis.
Further, the Agreement would provide a right to return on a part-time basis for up to 6 months, if the employee so chose.
- Pre-natal Leave
This is a new entitlement. An employee, whose partner is pregnant, or a pregnant employee would be able to access up to 8 hours paid leave to attend pre-natal appointments. Currently employees use personal or other leave or flextime for 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 would be eligible for up to 2 days unpaid leave as per the current provisions.
- Defence Service Leave
An entitlement to paid leave for undertaking defence service (e.g. army reserve) would be included in the Agreement. Entitlements would the same as those in By-law 14 (defence service leave).
- Transition to Retirement
This is a new entitlement. The Agreement would provide up to 2 hours of paid leave per annum (total 6 hours over 3 years) for employees aged 62 or older who are transitioning to retirement to seek independent financial advice about their superannuation and other financial matters. Paid leave can be approved where flextime or time off in lieu are not otherwise available.
Responses to CPSU Claims
The Agreement would contain provisions in response to a number of CPSU claims that were discussed during negotiations. They would be incorporated as set out below.
- Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence Provisions
The existing domestic and family violence provisions in clause 61 of the current Agreement would be expanded to include circumstances where employees have experienced sexual violence (i.e. sexual violence in non-domestic or family situations). The paid leave entitlements, currently provided in miscellaneous leave (By-law 18), would be included in the Agreement to support a comprehensive agreement. The CEO would retain the ability to approve uncapped paid leave for these purposes.
- Personal or Carers Leave
The Agreement would enhance personal or carer’s leave entitlements by allowing employees up to 5 days personal or carer’s leave without a medical certificate. The current Agreement is limited to 3 days.
- Infectious Disease – Notifiable Diseases
The CPSU sought provisions dealing with pandemic situations e.g. COVID-19, and other changes to the infectious diseases provisions in clause 56.10 of the current Agreement. As discussed in bargaining, 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 Public Sector Employment and Management Act 1993. The claim to include pandemic leave conditions in the Agreement is not agreed. Employees who are sick or suffering from a notifiable disease would be required to utilise personal leave. Where an employee has exhausted their leave entitlements, the CEO may grant additional sick leave at half pay as is currently the case.
However, in response to the CPSU’s claims and feedback generally on OCPE’s draft clause, the Agreement clause will be amended to include:
- in relation to evidence required to support time off work - ‘evidence that would satisfy a reasonable person’; and
- a reference to working from home where an employee is required to isolate but is not actually suffering from the notifiable disease. If working from home is not possible, the employee will be required to take recreation leave.
- Christmas Closedown
The Agreement would provide for employees who do not have accrued recreation leave or flextime to request alternate work within Jacana Energy during the Christmas closedown period.
- Casual Employment
In relation to casual employment the Agreement would:
- increase the casual loading from 20% to 25%. Casual loading is paid in lieu of paid leave (excluding long service leave) and public holidays not worked;
- introduce a daily minimum engagement period of 3 hours;
- include a definition of a ‘casual employee’ that is consistent with the definition of a casual employee in section 15A(1) of the Fair Work Act 2009;
- include any other entitlements currently provided under Determination Number 3 of 2012 consistent with this offer and the current Agreement;
- include principles enabling casual employees to request the conversion of their employment to ongoing employment after 12 months.
Significant improvements in the Management of Change clause to include consultation with CPSU and affected employees prior to a decision being made to introduce major change.
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.
The CPSU claim is seeking increases to the employer contribution by 0.5% per annum until the rate reached 12%, irrespective of any Commonwealth legislation. I was unable to agree to this part of the CPSU claim.
Further, the bargaining representatives had a claim for a 10.5% increase to the employer contribution to align the Jacana Energy employer contribution with that in the Australian Public Service (15%). I was unable to agree to this claim from the bargaining representatives
Both the CPSU and bargaining representatives’ claims were outside the NTPS Bargaining Policy.
- Jacana Consultative Committee
The Agreement would improve the clause dealing with the Jacana Consultative Committee. It would commit to biannual meetings to discuss general employment related matters relevant to Jacana Energy.
- Reasonable workload provisions
The workloads clause would be enhanced to ensure employees achieve an appropriate work life balance with a list of objectives ensuring that management monitors employee workloads and that employees have sufficient and appropriate resources to undertake their duties. It would require the implementation of strategies to ensure workloads remain reasonable and an undertaking to consult with employees and their nominated representatives over workload issues.
- Workplace Support for Breastfeeding Employees
This would be a new entitlement. Jacana Energy would support breastfeeding employees by providing suitable facilities for employees returning from parental leave for the purposes of breastfeeding, expressing milk or any other associated activities as necessary.
A new provision for breaks for breastfeeding mothers would be included.
- Security of employment
The Agreement would include a statement to the effect that Jacana Energy is committed to employment on an ongoing basis as the primary method of employment.
- Performance Planning, Review and Improvement
There would be a new clause ‘performance planning, review and improvement’ that would set out the processes and the roles and responsibilities in the management of employee performance.
- No Reduction in Leave provisions
There would be no reduction in existing leave entitlements. The Agreement would enhance leave conditions through the inclusion of new leave entitlements and improvements to existing conditions.
- Work Life Balance and Family Friendly Provisions
Employees would continue to have access to the work life balance options provided under the current Agreement (e.g. recreation leave at half pay, part-time employment, and flextime). The offer contains a number of enhancements to existing entitlements that facilitate employees working flexibly.
For consistency and to ensure employee requests are considered in a timely manner, all requests for flexible work, regardless of the circumstances, will require a response from the CEO (or delegate) within 21 days and may only be refused on reasonable business grounds. ‘Reasonable business grounds’ would be as defined in clause 51.21(b) of the current Agreement.
- Safe Workplace
Employees would have the right to a healthy and safe work environment, including a workplace free from discrimination, harassment, or bullying. The provisions in the Agreement would reflect these objectives.
- Dispute Settlement Procedures
The CPSU sought to amend the current clause so all matters arising under the Agreement are subject to dispute settlement procedures (i.e. remove the exemptions in clause 13.2) and therefore ultimately arbitration by the Fair Work Commission.
I have considered the union’s position. I am prepared to amend the clause to allow disputes regarding refusals for requests for flexible work, in all circumstances, or to extend parental leave to be dealt with under the dispute settlement procedures through internal resolution and conciliation by the Fair Work Commission.
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.
I have also considered other matters raised in the union and other bargaining representatives’ logs of claims provided on 9 March 2021. As discussed in negotiation meetings, there were some claims that could not be agreed to as they would not be in line with the NTPS Bargaining Policy (for example, increases to allowances).
The above offer is reflected in the draft Agreement enclosed with this offer. The draft Agreement was developed from individual draft clauses tabled during bargaining and reflect my position on all claims and proposals at the time of making this offer.
I consider the above offer to represent a good package that provides an appropriate balance between job certainty, improved conditions for employees and which is within the NTPS Bargaining Policy. The offer also reflects the extensive and constructive discussions about issues raised by all parties during bargaining.
Last updated: 16 July 2021
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