Government departments have been quietly given the green light to recruit or keep some of their temporary and casual workers. Photo: Louise Kennerley
Government departments have been quietly given the green light to recruit or keep some of their temporary and casual workers, despite the federal government's ''hiring freeze''.
The public service's workplace authority has confirmed that bosses of eight agencies and departments have pleaded for the jobs of the casuals and temps and that some of them have been given permission to hire.
Do you know more? Send your confidential tips to firstname.lastname@example.org
There were fears for the public service's army of 14,000 temporary workers, many of whom are women, low paid or junior employees, when the freeze on renewing their jobs was announced in early November. The commission will not say which departments are hiring.
But The Canberra Times believes the Australian Taxation Office, which relies heavily on temps, has led the rush to get the Australian Public Service Commission's approval for new hirings. The Tax Office refused to give details of its workforce plans for 2014 but the Community and Public Sector Union says the latest development proves that departments cannot cope with the cuts expected by the Abbott government.
Under the ''interim arrangements'' for public service recruitment, any hirings, or renewal of temporary jobs, have to be approved by the APSC.
The commission's employment policy chief, Owen Livermore, said the bosses of eight separate agencies had made pitches to either keep their temps or hire new ones.
Mr Livermore said the requests were not stretching the commission's resources and that not every single ''non-ongoing'' job had to be ticked off by his office. ''The APSC has received requests from eight agencies to maintain intermittent and irregular non-ongoing employees as part of their work force to assist meet peak and variable workloads,'' he said.
''The APSC is able to process these requests without additional resources.
''Individual non-ongoing employment activity, including specified term and task, does not necessarily need to be approved in advance by the commissioner under the interim recruitment arrangements.''
Mr Livermore said that some of the departments had already been granted their approvals.
''I can inform you that agency requests are being processed gradually and where approved, agencies are already undertaking the endorsed recruitment activity,'' he said.
The Australian Taxation Office, one of the agencies that relies most heavily on seasonal and temporary employees, would not give any details of its recruitment or retention activities.
''We're still working through arrangements for temporary and non-ongoing staff in 2014 and cannot provide further details at this stage,'' a spokeswoman said.
''Any staff employed will be done so on a needs basis and we will work with the APSC to comply with interim APS recruitment arrangements.''
CPSU assistant national secretary Louise Persse said the move by the agencies proved the government was making its policy on the run.
''It is a one-size-fits-all policy that only serves to put greater pressure on agencies already hit by successive efficiency dividends and budget cuts,'' Ms Persse said.
''Now the very agencies that were told they had to shed staff have been given permission to go out and re-hire them.
''Clearly the work still needs to be done and this move is confirmation that there aren't enough people to do it.
''This just shows that when it comes to running the Australian Public Service, this government is making it up as it goes along.''