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Public Service Arbitrator

What is the Public Service Arbitrator?

The Public Service Arbitrator has exclusive jurisdiction to deal with industrial matters relating to government officers. Commissioners are appointed by the Chief Commissioner to be Public Service Arbitrators.

 Who can bring a matter to the Public Service Arbitrator?

Government officers and public service officers can make applications to the Public Service Arbitrator. Information on the types of applications that can be made to the Public Service Arbitrator can be found here

 What can the Public Service Arbitrator do?

The Public Service Arbitrator can convene compulsory conferences to endeavour to resolve industrial disputes. If the dispute is not resolved, the Arbitrator may hear and determine the matter and make legally binding orders. 

The Arbitrator also: 

  • registers and amends industrial agreements;
  • makes and amends awards;
  • interprets award and agreement provisions; and
  • deals with disputes about the level of classification of positions.

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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.