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Public Service Appeal Board

What is the Public Service Appeal Board?

The Public Service Appeal Board is a constituent authority, or part, of the Commission. It hears and determines appeals brought by government officers or public service officers. The Board is constituted by: 

  1. A Chairman who is a Public Service Arbitrator (who is a Commissioner appointed to be a Public Service Arbitrator);
  2. The employer’s nominee: somebody independent of the dispute, appointed by the employer; and
  3. The employee’s nominee: somebody independent of the dispute, nominated by The Civil Service Association of Western Australia Incorporated or another union of which the employee is a member. 

The employee’s and employer’s nominees do not represent the interests of the parties who nominate them. The parties either represent themselves or are represented by a lawyer, industrial agent or some other person.

Who can bring a matter to the Public Service Appeal Board, and what can be appealed?

Generally speaking, government officers and public service officers can make an application to the Public Service Appeal Board. The Board’s jurisdiction varies depending on the type of decision being appealed. Please click here for more information on the types of applications that can be made to the Board.

What can the Public Service Appeal Board do?

The Board hears evidence and argument presented by the parties. It does not undertake its own investigation, so the parties have to present whatever it is they want the Board to consider. 

The Board has the power to ‘adjust’ the decision made by the employer. It is for the appellant to prove the employer’s decision should be adjusted. Please note that the Board cannot award compensation for an employee who does not seek reinstatement.

Based on its own findings of the facts and law, the Board may vary or uphold a decision of the employer. Procedural flaws in the employer’s process are relevant but are not necessarily determinative of the Board’s decision. 

What can’t the Public Service Appeal board deal with?

  • Decisions dealing with redeployment and redundancy, and termination of registered redeployees.
  • Mediation/conciliation

The Board only has the power to ‘hear and determine’ appeals before it; it has no power to conciliate or mediate.  If the parties believe mediation may assist them to reach an agreement, or narrow the issues in dispute, they can use the Commission’s Employment Dispute Resolution service.

Is there a time limit for matters to be referred to the Board?

Yes. An appeal must be commenced within 21 days after the date of the decision, finding, determination or recommendation. If the decision, finding, determination or recommendation is published in the Government Gazette, an appeal may be commenced within one month of the date of that publication. For more information see regulation 107(2) of the Industrial Relations Commission Relations 2005 (WA).

Public Service Appeal Board Latest News

Dismissed security officer reinstated without loss by PSAB

Details  Created: 17 September 2020

The Public Service Appeal Board has upheld an appeal against the decision of the WA Country Health Service to dismiss a security officer who was convicted of assault occasioning bodily harm on the basis that the dismissal was harsh, unfair, and disproportionate.

The appellant worked as a full-time security officer with the Health Service for ten years. In July 2019, he was convicted of assault occasioning bodily harm in relation to an incident between him and a member of his extended family.

Section 150(3) of the Health Services Act 2016 (WA) provides that “... if an employee is convicted or found guilty of a serious offence, the employing authority may take such disciplinary action or improvement action… as the employing authority considers appropriate.”

In reliance on that provision, the Chief Executive wrote to the appellant and informed him that the Health Service had decided to take disciplinary action by way of dismissal.

The appellant argued that his dismissal was harsh because it was disproportionate to the misconduct in question, having regard to the circumstances of the offence.

The respondent contended that because of the nature of the appellant’s conduct, and because the position he held required him to provide security for patients, visitors and other staff, the decision to dismiss the appellant was appropriate.

The Board found that the appellant’s conviction arose in unique circumstances and was the culmination of provocation in the context of long-running, complex, cultural family tension and the stress of his wife’s recent illness. The Board also considered the appellant’s positive character references, unblemished work history and his acknowledgement of the seriousness of the matter. It found that he does not represent a threat to patient, staff, or visitor safety.

The Board determined that, on the evidence, the decision to dismiss was harsh, unfair, and disproportionate, that a warning and improvement action in the form of training was an appropriate penalty, and ordered that the appellant be reinstated without loss and with continuity of employment benefits.

The decision can be read here.

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Frequently asked questions

A public service officer is a fixed term, permanent or executive officer, who is employed in the Public Service (for a definition of these terms, see Public Sector Management Act 1994). Broadly speaking, the Public Service is made up of departments and other government organisations.

Employees can find out whether they are a public service officer by looking at their letter of appointment. If the employee is appointed as either ‘permanent’ or ‘fixed term’ and the employer is a government department, the employee is probably a public service officer. Employees can also ask their employer’s HR department for details of their appointment.

Not all government employees are public service officers. For example, if an employee is appointed casually, they are probably not ‘public service officers’. Similarly, if an employee is appointed to assist a political office holder, they are not employees of the Public Service, and therefore they are not public service officers.

However, since public service officers are a type of government officer, they are able to make appeals to the Public Service Appeal Board and applications for reclassification to the Public Service Arbitrator as a government officer (For more information see the government officers section). In addition, public service officers can make specific appeals to the Public Service Appeal Board that are not available to other kinds of government officers. These appeals and applications are detailed below.

A government officer is defined in section 80C(1) of the Industrial Relations Act 1979 (WA).

Government officers are:

  • every person employed on the salaried staff of a public authority;
  • public service officers;
  • parliamentary and electoral office staff;
  • members of the Governor’s Establishment; or
  • some employees appointed before 1 March 1985.

 

Government officers are not:

  • teachers;
  • some railway officers; or
  • post secondary academics.