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Australian Taxation Office tries to get its extra nine minutes a day offer over the line

It was one of the most controversial revelations as enterprise bargaining kicked off for 20,000 Australian Taxation Office staff 18 months ago.

They were going to be asked to work an extra nine minutes a day. Instead of finishing work at 4.51pm they would knock off at 5pm.

Now Tax Office managers are about to see if their bold plan to tweak the shortest working hours in the Australian public service will work.

ATO staff are voting on their enterprise agreement offer of a 6 per cent pay increase over three years - the maximum allowable under the federal government's bargaining policy - and cutting of the allowances covering health and wellbeing, part day and incidental travel and field work. 

The Community and Public Sector Union and Australian Services Union were telling staff to vote 'no'.


Second commissioner Geoff Leeper sent staff an email this week arguing in favour of the mechanism in the offer to have employees work an extra nine minutes a day - the equivalent of another three hours at work each month or 39 hours a year.

"The proposal to increase the working day by an extra nine minutes has been the subject of much comment, and many people have made the point that other departments and agencies have recently dropped proposals to increase working hours," Mr Leeper said.

"That is true but, to my knowledge all of those agencies were looking to increase their working hours above 37.5 hours per week.

"What we propose is to move to 37.5 hours, which would simply bring us into line with the [Australian public service] norm and community standards more generally.

"Our view is that a modern, contemporary workforce providing services to the Australian community can reasonably be expected to work the same hours as the rest of the APS.

"That is particularly the case given our salaries generally sit towards the higher end of the APS range for our various classification levels."

He also said hourly rates of pay would increase if the wage rise offer of 6 per cent across three years was accepted, which would cost $230 million.

He said removing items from the enterprise agreement was not a cutting of conditions.

"We already have things we do, and things people rely on, outside the current agreement - for example, facilities in staff amenity rooms," he said.


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