The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is an unprecedented event requiring a dynamic response from the Victorian Government. The pandemic has created dual imperatives of maintaining public sector employment to the greatest extent possible whilst also rapidly filling current and emerging surge workforce needs.
Together with Industrial Relations Victoria (IRV), the Jobs and Skills Exchange (JSE) is implementing the Victorian Government’s COVID-19 Employee Mobilisation Response. In accordance with the , this initiative seeks to mobilise the Victorian Public Sector workforce in response to coronavirus (COVID-19) by deploying some employees to fulfil surge duties in areas where they are needed most.
Prioritisation of existing public sector employees
As much as possible, the Victorian Government wants to ensure continued employment for all employees whose roles have been affected by reduced hours or business closures as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19). The goal is to help provide employment certainty across the public sector during this time, which means ongoing and fixed-term employees receiving salary maintenance and casuals who have opted for deployment may be prioritised over other employees in the assignment to duties. Mobility and flexibility are key to the success of this initiative. As such, employees are encouraged to be flexible and managers encouraged to release their team members where possible.
Connecting employees with surge workforce needs
Mobility Officers have been nominated by departments to connect:
- the duties required to manage the Victorian Government’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic
- those employees with capacity where the functions of their role have been reduced due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic
Mobility Officers will coordinate needs across their Department, including portfolio agencies, and will work closely with other Departments though the JSE-led process.
The JSE is coordinating this process. Departments and their portfolio agencies will provide detailed information to employees who are asked to undertake new duties.
Identifying employees for mobilisation following release of the IR Framework
Mobility Officers and their departments will coordinate the collection of information about employees eligible for mobilisation, including:
- ongoing and fixed-term employees receiving salary maintenance
- casual employees who are receiving financial support
- VPS fixed term employees (other than DJCS and DHHS) whose employer has nominated them to be a mobility employee
- other casual employees seeking work
- volunteer employees and employees with latent capacity or necessary skills, training or qualifications necessary for surge functions
Employees eligible for mobilisation will be asked to provide information about their professional skills, qualifications, contact information and other relevant details. They will be asked to identify any necessary workplace adjustments required to support them in fulfilling any new duties, and any personal circumstances that may make them unsuitable for certain work (e.g. healthcare conditions) to ensure they are mobilised appropriately.
Mobilisation of employees to complete surge duties
Certain employees may be assigned or temporarily transferred to duties to support the Victorian Government’s coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic response (where provided for under the ). Where employees are deployed into surge functions, the standard assignment model will be a short-term secondment arrangement of no more than six months’ duration, where the employee remains employed by their current employer. Employees may be mobilised to perform duties within another public service body or in a public entity, and every effort will be made to assign employees to duties that best align with their skills, capabilities and workplace needs.
How can employees be involved?
Employees should discuss their availability to be mobilised with their manager to ensure alignment with business needs and the IR Framework. If you are interested in being mobilised to a surge function and you have received clearance from your manager to be released, please complete the online form.
This availability will then be communicated to departmental mobility officers who will be in contact to place you into a surge function
What are some examples of ‘surge functions’?
Requests have already been received for surge functions across the public sector. In addition to a need for staff to fulfil frontline duties such a contact tracing and quarantine concierge, surge duties also include workforce optimisation analysts, executive assistants, financial analysts, technical IT support staff, Office365 IT specialists, and grant administrators, to name a few. You can read more about the types of surge functions on the .
Working for Victoria
Where duties cannot be filled rapidly or the nature, number, location or urgency of the duties requires an exception to this approach, a role can be advertised immediately and publicly on and/or via other external suppliers. An exception must be approved by a secretary, deputy secretary or equivalent. Any queries regarding WfV can be directed to:
Existing mobility processes
The Employee Mobilisation Response is designed to supplement existing internal mobility processes that are already in place within government departments and public sector agencies. It is not mandatory for departments or agencies to participate in the Mobility Response if duties can be assigned through internal movement or usual job advertisements.
If you have any questions regarding mobility across the public sector, or about the JSE in general, please contact your Human Resources team (especially if in relation to your personal circumstances) or the JSE team:
Support for staff
Mobilisations can create uncertainty for employees who face the challenge of transitioning to a new work environment, working with new people and learning new skills. You can contact your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) if you need support - confidential counselling is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You are encouraged to let your manager or HR contact know if you need assistance in accessing EAP support while you are on mobilisation, although you are entitled to contact them confidentially.
You or your family can also access BeyondBlue's free Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at or through their dedicated phone line, staffed by mental health professionals trained on the pandemic response, on 1800 512 348.
Reviewed 16 October 2020