Principles for implementing budget reprioritisations in the VPS

In implementing budget reprioritisations employers must apply the following principles.

The existing legal and policy framework must be applied (including the obligations set out in VPS Agreement including its underpinning common policies and BPEC (or other relevant enterprise agreement – see Attachment A - Other relevant public service enterprise agreements), Public Sector Industrial Relations Policies 2015 (IR Policies), Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004) (OHS Act), Administrative Guidelines on Engaging Labour Hire in the Victorian Public Service and Administrative Guidelines on Engaging Professional Services in the Victorian Public Service. All employers must comply with their obligations and entitlements outlined in these instruments as amended or enhanced by this policy. The inter-relationship between these instruments and this policy is set out in more detail in the table below:

InstrumentInter-relationship between the instruments and this policy
VPS Agreement and underpinning common policies (or other relevant enterprise agreement – see Attachment A - Other relevant public service enterprise agreements)The enterprise agreement applies, and its terms must be complied with, except where this policy provides a more generous entitlement in which case this policy will apply.
BPECThis policy overrides the BPEC to the extent of any inconsistency for the duration of the policy.
IR PoliciesThis policy overrides the IR Policies to the extent of any inconsistency for the duration of this policy.
OHS ActThe OHS Act applies

The arrangements in this policy are expressed to apply to until 30 June 2024, after which (to the extent the instruments listed above remain in operation), the instruments listed in the table above will apply as per their terms (and this policy will have no application).

Consultation obligations must be met

All consultation obligations with employees and unions must be followed and employers must, as part of their implementation planning, allow sufficient time for genuine consultation with employees and unions where major change likely to have a significant effect on employees is required. Proposals to manage savings initiatives involving significant reprioritisations will likely require consultation under the relevant enterprise agreement clause. Employers must also ensure specific consultation obligations for employees on long term absences from the workplace (for example, on parental leave or leave due to a workplace injury) are met. Employers will also have regard for any significant financial or personal hardships raised by employees (including employees living in a regional or rural community) during the consultation processes prior to its finalisation.

Even where the threshold for formal consultation is not met, employers must still ensure genuine information sharing and discussion with employees and unions in a flexible way which is appropriate for the circumstances.

Workforce planning and mobility is key

Workforce planning and mobility must be at the heart of the employer’s approach to implementing reprioritisations and employers must make every effort to responsively deploy employees to support changing government priorities where there are reasonable opportunities to do so.

Consistent with the powers enshrined in section 28 & 31A of the Public Administration Act 2004, which permit a public service body head to transfer or assign an employee to duties consistent with their employment classification, skills and capabilities on terms no less favourable and the mobility principles outlined in clause 15 of the VPS Agreement, employers must explore ways to mobilise employees likely to be affected by the budget reprioritisations to any new or growth areas in the entity in which vacancies are likely to arise, prior to declaring employees in areas of decline or cessation surplus to requirements – see mobility below for further information.

Employer’s must have regard to the gender impacts of their budget reprioritisation decisions

In implementing budget reprioritisations, employers must have regard for the actual or potential gender impacts, including consideration of factors which may give rise to intersectionality, which may arise in implementing budget reprioritisations and take steps to alleviate gender impacts where implementing budget reprioritisation decisions are likely to disproportionately affect employees of a particular gender.

In some cases, budget reprioritisation decisions may trigger a requirement to undertake a Gender Impact Assessment under the Gender Equality Act 2020 (GE Act), where those decisions are likely to have a direct and significant impact on the public. For more information on your obligations visit the Commission for Gender Equality in the Public Sector website.

The Jobs and Skills Exchange (JSE) remains the primary mechanism for advertising existing vacancies

The primary method for employers to advertise vacancies remains the JSE. Advertisement of vacancies externally will be limited to:

  • existing exemptions for key front line service delivery roles which are funded (for example child protection practitioners, correction officers, youth justice (with the full list to be provided to the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU), and
  • areas exempt from savings requirements, provided any external advertisement of vacancies is done so in accordance with JSE policy,

Any critical/hard to fill vacancies not already subject to an exemption from the JSE recruitment policy must be approved by departmental secretaries and referred to the Agreement Monitoring Committee.

Use of labour hire, contractors, professional services and consultants must be consistent with existing guidance

Use of consultants, contractors or labour hire must be consistent with whole-of-VPS administrative guidelines, which:

  • provide that professional services should not be engaged to undertake work identified as a universal and enduring public service function, and
  • limit engagement of labour hire.

Consultants, contractors and labour hire must not be used to replace for VPS employees impacted by reprioritisations.

Further guidance on the use of labour hire and consultants in the VPS is outlined in the following guidelines:

  • Administrative Guidelines on Engaging Labour Hire in the Victorian Public Service; and
  • Administrative Guidelines on Engaging Professional Service in the Victorian Public Service;

The Government will engage with the CPSU to identify ways to ensure the use of labour hire, contractors, consultants and professional services is consistent with its secure employment commitments.

Termination of employment is an option of last resort

Consistent with the IR Policies, where an individual’s role is declared surplus, the priority should be on redeployment, wherever possible.

Early Retirement Schemes (ERSs) should not be used “at large” or across the entire department to give effect to budget reprioritisations. Targeted ERSs may only be used in limited circumstances as outlined in this Policy (see below for further advice)

The other separation packages outlined in this policy should only be used as an option of last resort.

Career support services must be provided to affected employees

Employees must be provided with appropriate career and other support including:

  • assistance with identifying their skills, developing resumes and cover letters, preparation and techniques for job interviews
  • approval for time release to undertake a course of study that will facilitate the transition to alternative employment, including but not limited to a short course such as those focus on government and government investigations
  • time release to participate in career support activities/workshops and/or job interviews, and
  • employment references where appropriate.

To support employees to voluntarily find alternative employment, employers should ensure career support activities are available to all employees. In addition, employees eligible to receive a separation package must be provided with access to independent financial advice.

Appropriate strategies must be in place to manage workload

Employers must maintain appropriate strategies and processes to ensure employees do not have workloads which present a risk to their health and safety – see Workload Management below for further information.