NT News

Extra leave for public servants

Public service EBA offers time off for NAIDOC

- MATT CUNNINGHAM

NORTHERN Territory public servants will receive gender transition leave and paid time off to attend NAIDOC events under a new enterprise agreement offer.

But the Commission­er for Public Employment is refusing to budge on a government direction limiting pay rises to a flat $1000 per year — paid as a lump sum — for the next four years.

NORTHERN Territory public servants will receive gender transition leave and paid time off to attend NAIDOC events under a new enterprise agreement offer.

But the Commission­er for Public Employment is refusing to budge on a government direction limiting pay rises to a flat $1000 per year — paid as a lump sum — for the next four years.

In a new offer put forward on Monday, Commission­er Vicki Telfer detailed several new leave entitlemen­ts being offered to public service employees. “Gender transition leave would be available to support employees who wish to transition their gender,” Ms Telfer said. “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 four weeks paid and 48 weeks unpaid.

“Additional paid leave may be granted by the CEO on a case-by-case basis.”

While universiti­es and private companies, including Westpac bank and Allianz Insurance, offer paid gender transition leave, it’s understood the NT would be the first Australian jurisdicti­on to formalise such leave arrangemen­ts for public service employees.

Another new provision is paid time off for NAIDOC events.

“Paid NAIDOC leave would be available (up to three hours) to attend NAIDOC March and NAIDOC Week activities,” Ms Telfer said.

“Paid leave will be approved where flexitime or time off in lieu are not otherwise available.”

Other improved conditions on the table include “pre-natal leave”, offering an employee whose partner is pregnant eight hours’ paid leave to attend appointmen­ts, and “transition to retirement” leave, providing two hours’ paid leave per year for employees over 62 to access financial advice.

The proposed new agreement would also see changes to how Kinship Obligation Leave – which allows Aboriginal workers five days’ paid leave for sorry business – is assessed. “The Australian First Nations’ definition of ‘kinship’ will be included in the Agreement for the purpose of providing up to five days’ paid leave per annum to attend ‘sorry business’ or related purposes,” Ms Telfer said.

“That definition is: Australian First Nations kinship where there is a connection, relationsh­ip or obligation under the customs, traditions or cultures of communitie­s, groups or families to which the employee belongs.

“The definition was developed by an extensive consultati­on process involving key Aboriginal NTPS representa­tives.

“The five days will be in addition to compassion­ate leave, may be taken in broken periods and at half pay. The five days does not accrue and is not cumulative.”

Despite the new measures, the Commission­er has rejected union demands for an annual 2.5 per cent pay increase.

Instead, all employees will be paid an extra $1000 per year as a lump sum.

The NT government announced the measure following the release of the Langoulant report into budget repair, which found rises in public service wages had far outpaced the private sector over the past two decades.

“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,” Ms Telfer said.

“For the years 2022, 2023 and 2024, the annual payment would be made on the first payday on or after August 10.

“Overall, employees would receive $4000 over four years.”

Unions had planned to protest against the blanket cap on pay rises last week but the demonstrat­ion was called off due to coronaviru­s lockdowns.

“This is not just a slap in the face for the many public service employees who have already gone above and beyond during the pandemic to ensure services and safety four our community, it’s bad economic policy,” CPSU NT regional secretary Kay Densley said last week. Negotiatio­ns over the new agreement continue.

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