Page 2765 - Week 09 - Tuesday, 16 August 2005

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The bill recognises the need for flexibility in the deployment of senior management. It also ensures that any views the individual may have are appropriately taken into account in considering transfers. This reflects arrangements that apply to other staff. A second change provides for three months notice of non-renewal of a long-term contract or a payment in lieu of that notice. Under existing arrangements, most executives are not entitled to notice or any payment for non-renewal. Long-serving staff moving into executive positions forgo the benefits of tenure to take a five-year contract. For these executives, no payment reflecting their long service, other than their accrued leave, is payable at contract expiry.

While the three-month notice period is not as generous as arrangements for former senior executive officers who can receive up to a year’s payment on non-renewal, this change provides a sensible and reasonable entitlement for staff. A consequential change to section 248 of the act prevents these staff from accepting another ACT public service position during that three-month period, after the expiry of a non-renewed contract, unless agreed by the Commissioner for Public Administration. This reflects an existing prohibition on re-engaging executives during the period covered by a redundancy payment.

The third main change to the act provides for short-term contract arrangements of up to two years. Currently, short-term contracts cannot exceed nine months. The only way that key staff can be moved to a fixed term project or task of longer than nine months is to provide long-term contracts that override any other employment arrangement. This would mean, for example, that a senior officer taking a 12-month long-term executive contract loses his or her substantive position. That is not a workable arrangement. The change, therefore, reflects the needs of the service to better manage longer-term fixed tasks and projects. Existing merit arrangements are not diminished by this change. The act does not mandate merit processes for engagements of short-term chief executive or executive contracts—that is, contracts up to nine months. The new arrangements retain this, which means that merit processes are still required for any engagement for a period of longer than nine months.

The fourth change to the act provides for increases in remuneration through a contract variation where prescribed by the public sector management standards. This modifies an existing prohibition in the act that contract variations cannot be used to increase executive pay. This prohibition tightly maintains the current 12-point executive pay framework in which a job evaluation methodology sets job levels, which in turn links to Remuneration Tribunal determination of matching pay levels. However, the framework does not reflect the reality that executive jobs often increase in size and responsibility through organisational changes or that, as executives develop in positions, they attract new functions.

The proposed arrangement balances the importance of maintaining a consistent service-wide pay structure for executives with the need to reflect increased responsibilities with pay increases. There should be brakes on these arrangements and these will be provided through the public sector management standards, which are disallowable instruments. The standards will make sure pay increases are deserved—that is, they will need to be supported by a job evaluation—and that there are limits to pay progression without merit processes. This balances sensible and fair management

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