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PS payout rorts may turn sour

Date

Noel Towell and Ewa Kretowicz

Public servants are being offered redundancies then being told they are free to return to the job after just one week.

Public servants are being offered redundancies then being told they are free to return to the job after just one week. Photo: Supplied

Federal public servants are being offered redundancy payouts and told they are free to return to the bureaucracy after just one week.

But retrenched public servants planning a quick return to the bureaucracy face a shrinking job market and may even be falling foul of tax authorities.

Up to 70 workers at the new Innovation and Industry "super department" are understood to have been "tapped" for voluntary redundancy in the past two months and advised that an exclusion period for re-employment would apply, in line with the Public Service Act.

But bosses at the Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education have told some of the "potentially excess" staff that they can start re-applying for public service jobs seven days after they walk out the door. A spokesman said the seven-day turnaround was within public service rules but the public sector union, the CPSU, said it wanted the workers resettled in other jobs rather than made redundant.

In the past, retrenched public servants have returned to their old departments as contractors or temps but the government's determination to slash its wages bill means that such opportunities are harder to find.

The latest snapshot of the public service has revealed that more than 2500 jobs were shed in the second half of last year and next week's federal budget is expected to reveal more job losses for the first half of this year.

A rapid, post-retrenchment return to the service may also attract the attention of the Taxation Office with workers found to have been paid out for non-bona-fide redundancies facing big tax bills on their lump sum payouts.

A spokesman for the newly merged department blamed the redundancies on "role duplication and financial considerations" and said they were limited to a "small number".

He cited a 2010 circular from the Public Service Commission that said exclusion periods of less than four weeks could be offered to workers with less than 10 years' experience.

The CPSU's lead organiser in the new department, Beth Vincent-Pietsch, urged departmental bosses to try to find new jobs for the "excess" staff. "We are aware of the process and are talking to the department to make sure that the rights and entitlements of staff are respected," Ms Pietsch said.

"We are also working with the department to ensure that wherever possible staff are redeployed across the public service."

10 comments

  • Why are people about to retire at the age of 65 being offered redundancies?

    Commenter
    pg
    Date and time
    May 09, 2013, 8:19AM
    • That is a good question though you will find the age is closer to 55 for those in the older CSS super scheme and for everyone else will probably be more than 65.

      Commenter
      Jimmy
      Date and time
      May 09, 2013, 10:18AM
    • Because they are the only ones who would agree to it voluntarily

      Commenter
      James
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      May 09, 2013, 10:35AM
    • I will be 65 in February 2014 and your statement is discriminatory as there is no age limit to those who want to work. Our super was wiped out during the GFC (lost $35,000) and we are just starting to make grounds and as I won't be eligible for a pension, I see myself working until I am 70 at least.

      Commenter
      Tony of Kureelpa
      Date and time
      May 09, 2013, 12:22PM
  • If the government wants to save money maybe they should start with the over paid executives

    Commenter
    R
    Date and time
    May 09, 2013, 9:38AM
    • Get rid of the lot of them and hire back 10%.

      Commenter
      Mick
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      May 09, 2013, 11:16AM
      • but Mick, who would then be left to process your Baby Bonus, tradie tax write-offs and fix everything that you think the Guv'mint should fix?

        Commenter
        Titus
        Date and time
        May 09, 2013, 11:37AM
      • Hey Mick, a lot of "public servants" are actually "self servants", if it weren't for the "public service" it would be called "dole queue". Not all, but far too many.

        Commenter
        PS basher
        Location
        Kambah
        Date and time
        May 09, 2013, 11:59AM
    • Public servants who take the VR package are usually the people in their senior years . They are in waiting to retire as they can enjoy a good financial deal when they leave the job. The other mob are deemed by their managers as inefficient in the workplace and wanted to get rid off. In the old day people who can quickly come back to their job after taking the VR package are normally highly technical skilled staff or key people.

      Commenter
      Joe - around the corner
      Date and time
      May 09, 2013, 11:53AM
      • APS swindle again!

        Commenter
        Neil
        Location
        Oz
        Date and time
        May 09, 2013, 5:13PM
        Comments are now closed

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