Union's long list of demands for its Tax Office workers

Looking at extending the Christmas closedown period, no hot desking and guaranteed 15-minute tea breaks have all been put forward by a union representing Australian Tax Office workers during bargaining negotiations. 

The Australian Services Union's seven-page list of claims in an austere negotiating environment asks for employees to be able to take almost double the number of personal leave days without documentation.

A recent survey of the ASU's members at the Tax Office found the union's position was widely supported.

About a third of ASU's 1000 members at the Tax Office responded to the poll and 98 per cent agreed with its position so far, according to the union's tax branch secretary Jeff Lapidos.

The union wanted 4 per cent a year compounded pay increases and the ASU's consideration of a longer Christmas closedown was put forward as a trade-off in case it did not get its proposed annual pay increase. 

At past negotiations, staff received an extra half-day of paid leave at Christmas due to a reduced pay offer. 


Putting quarter-hour tea breaks in the morning and afternoon would recognise in writing what was already a long-standing custom, the union said.

''Employees should be able to utilise flex leave in association with a tea break, without prior approval, so employees do not risk being on an unauthorised absence if they return late from their break,'' the bargaining document said.

The ASU said closed Commonwealth Superannuation and Public Sector Superannuation schemes provided markedly superior benefits for their members compared to the existing PSS Accumulation Plan and at much higher cost to the Tax Office. 

''The ATO currently contributes 15.4 per cent of their salary to members’ PSS AP accounts,'' the negotiating document said.  

''The ATO’s superannuation cost of employing its staff is reducing as members of the CSS and PSS leave the ATO due to retirement, resignation etc, because of their relatively high cost.

''The ATO should share part of this saving with members of the PSS Accumulation Plan. 

''We propose the ATO increase the size of its contribution to members of the PSS AP from 15.4 per cent of their salary by an additional agreed percentage for each year of the life of the 2014 ATO Enterprise Agreement.''

The ASU said the government must properly fund the Australian Tax Office so the productivity gains and cost savings from re-structuring can be fairly shared between the government and Tax Office employees, although the Commonwealth's position on this so far was firmly opposed.

The ASU said the Tax Office should enhance staff mobility at the same classification level by strengthening employees’ right to transfer. 

''It is too easy for a ‘losing’ manager to refuse to release an employee,'' the document said.

''Any restrictions on release should be clearly stated and agreed with the ASU so they are reasonable and fairly balance the ATO’s and employees’ interests.''

The union also pushed for employees to be able to access other leave types, such as annual, purchased or long service leave for sick leave purposes if they use up all their personal leave with pay.

It said the number of days without documentation should increase from 8 to 15 to align the government’s requirement for Medicare co-payments.