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Public Sector Workplace Relations Policy 2020

The Australian Government’s Public Sector Workplace Relations Policy 2020 (the Policy) was released on 13 November 2020.

The Policy introduces a new approach to remuneration adjustments in the Commonwealth public sector. Annual wage adjustments in new Commonwealth public sector workplace arrangements will be linked to the private sector Wage Price Index annual percentage change for the immediately preceding June quarter. Agencies may negotiate a lower outcome based on affordability.

Existing workplace arrangements will run their full course. The Policy will be implemented in new arrangements as they fall due.

The Policy also fully implements the 9 April 2020 wage increase deferral decision. Agencies yet to implement the Government directed six month wage increase deferral must delay the first non-SES wage increase delivered under this Policy for six months.

The Policy retains the core elements of the Government’s previous policies.

A media release from the Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister and Cabinet is available on the Assistant Minister's website

Under the now superseded Workplace Bargaining Policy 2018, 71 agencies introduced determinations to provide employees with timely pay increases and employees in 52 agencies voted up 62 new enterprise agreements.

Pause on wage increases in Commonwealth agencies

On 9 April 2020, the Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Hon Ben Morton MP, announced the Government’s decision to pause general wage increases in Commonwealth agencies for six months. For APS agencies the Minister made a determination made under subsection 24(3) of the Public Service Act 1999 (PS Act) which commenced on 14 April 2020.

A copy of the determination can be found on the Federal Register of Legislation.

The determination operates for 12 months from its date of commencement. During this period, increases to wages and salary-related allowances are deferred by six months as they fall due. The pause applies to enterprise agreements, individual flexibility arrangements, common law contracts and determinations made under the PS Act. This includes determinations made in lieu of bargaining.

To ensure equity of application, the Public Sector Workplace Relations Policy 2020 requires that any agency that is unable to implement a wage increase deferral between 14 April 2020 and 13 April 2021 must delay the first non-SES wage increase delivered under this Policy for six months.

The wage increase deferral decision followed the Government’s decision to implement a stay on increases in remuneration, entitlements and allowances for all Senior Executive Service (and equivalent) officers which remains in force.

Agencies should contact their APSC Relationship Manager for more information on the wage increase deferral, or write to workplacerelations [at] apsc.gov.au.

Agencies using determinations to provide pay increases

The Public Sector Workplace Relations Policy 2020 continues to provide the flexibility for an agency to adopt any form of workplace arrangement that best suits its employees and its business needs.

With employee support, agencies can introduce determinations under the Public Service Act 1999, or an agency’s own enabling legislation, to provide employees with timely pay increases. The determinations sit on top of enterprise agreements past their nominal expiry dates.

The underlying agreements continue to operate, while the determinations simply provide pay increases without needing to bargain for a new agreement. Employee rights to collectively bargain are protected in the Fair Work Act 2009.

Before making a determination, agencies undertake extensive consultation with their employees to ensure they are comfortable with this approach and support it.

APS remuneration reports

census of APS employee remuneration is conducted annually. The census provides participating agencies with agency-specific and APS-wide data that informs their remuneration practices.

Award modernisation

Information about the process of award modernisation in the Commonwealth public sector. 

Allowance subscription service

We provide an allowance subscription service on a fee-for-service basis which updates a range of employment-related allowances. 

Legislative framework

The legislative framework for employment in the APS. 

Enterprise Bargaining Guide

The APSC's Enterprise Bargaining Guide developed as part of the Workplace Relations Capability Program.

Last reviewed: 
10 March 2021