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Claims by government officers

Overview

Government officers and public service officers can make a number of specific applications in relation to their employment. The primary applications that can be made are:

If you are a police officer, prison officer or youth custodial officer and you wish to make an appeal against your removal from office, you will need to complete and file a Form 8C – Notice of Appeal or Referral (Other Matters). For more information, visit our Removal from office page.

Please refer to the Commission's Fact sheets page for further guidance on proceedings at the Commission.

 

Who is a 'government officer'?

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

Government officers are:

  • public service officers;
  • every person employed on the salaried staff of a public authority;
  • 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.

Appeals to the Public Service Appeal Board

Government officers can make the following appeals to the Public Service Appeal Board using Form 8B:

Appeals to the Public Service Arbitrator

Government officers may make an application for reclassification to the Public Service Arbitrator to have their salary, range of salary (classification level) or position title reviewed (section 80F of the Industrial Relations Act 1979 (WA)). 

Who is a 'public service officer'?

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 (WA)). 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.

Appeals to the Public Service Appeal Board

Public service officers can make the following appeals to the Public Service Appeal Board using Form 8B:

Applications to the Public Service Arbitrator

Public service officers can make an application for reclassification to the Public Service Arbitrator to have your salary, range of salary (classification level) or position title reviewed (section 80F of the Industrial Relations Act 1979 (WA)). 

Making an appeal to the Public Service Appeal Board

To make an appeal, you must file a Form 8B – Notice of Appeal – Government Officers, Public Service Officers.

The appeal must be commenced within 21 days of the date of the decision that is the subject of the appeal. Otherwise, the Public Service Appeal board may not accept the appeal. If the time has passed, you should provide reasons for the delay in your Form 8B.

Your appeal should be made against your 'Employing Authority'. Generally, this would be the Chief Executive Officer or Director General of the State government agency that you are or were employed by. In most instances, your manager or supervisor is not your employer.

NOTE: If an employee who has been dismissed does not want to be reinstated to their former position, the Public Service Appeal board does not have the capacity to award compensation instead of reinstatement.

Process

After you file the Form 8B, the Registrar will serve a copy of the notice of application on each of the parties, other than the appellant.

Appeals to the Public Service Appeal Board will be listed for a hearing, where the Public Service Appeal Board will make a binding decision.

Possible outcomes

The Public Service Appeal Board can, under s 80I of the Industrial Relations Act 1979 (WA):

  • adjust the decision made by the employer; or
  • in the case of an employee who has been dismissed, order that the employee be reinstated.

Making an application to the Public Service Arbitrator for reclassification

To make an application to have your salary, classification level or position title reviewed by the Public Service Arbitrator, you must file a Form 8A - Application for Reclassification - Government Officers.

Prior to lodging the application, you (or your union) should ensure you have first made a request for reclassification directly to your employer. You should have had the opportunity to consider your employer's reasons for rejecting your application for reclassification before proceeding to lodge your application for review with the Arbitrator. Reclassification applications must be substantiated by evidence of a significant net addition to the work value of the position that is not related to work value used for any previous reclassification of the position.

Formal notification generally requires you to submit your complete case, including all supporting evidence, rather than simply raising the issue with your employer and providing supporting documentation later. There is no time limit for claims for reclassification, however a claim should be pursued within a reasonable time after the employer's decision.

Process

After you file the Form 8A, the Registrar will serve a copy of the notice of application on each of the parties, other than the applicant. 

Applications for review made to the Public Service Arbitrator will be listed for conference. If there is no agreement, the parties will usually engage in discovery on an informal basis, and the matter will proceed to hearing where the Arbitrator will make a binding decision on the matter.

Possible outcomes

If your claim is successful, the operative date of the reclassification of your position will be the date you or your union formally notified the employer you were seeking reclassification.

What constitutes an increase in work value?

In claims for reclassification, work value is determined based on the requirements of the position, not the personal qualities, qualifications, attributes, or diligence of the individual who happens to occupy the position at a given time. For the position to warrant an increase in classification level on the basis of increased work value, the employee needs to demonstrate that since the position was last reviewed:

  • the work;
  • skill;
  • responsibility of the position; or
  • the conditions under which the work is performed,

have changed, AND that such change constitutes a significant net addition to work value to warrant upgrading to a higher classification. A change may occur subtly or gradually, but on examination prove to be significant.

The work value test is set out in Schedule 2, principle 7 of the State Wage Order which can be downloaded here. You should check with the Commission’s Registry to make sure you have the most recent version as the State Wage Order is revised every year.

What is not an increase in work value?

Applications for reclassification are decided on a case by case basis, however, there have been instances where certain reasons proposed for increase in work value were rejected by the Arbitrator. Please note that this is only a guide and not an absolute, determinative tool. This information applies only to Public Service Officers defined by Part 3 of the Public Sector Management Act 1994 (WA).

In certain cases, the Arbitrator decided the following situations did not mean an increase in work value:

  • Increase in workload (See: Frontline Clerks’ Case [2013] WAIRC 836; (2013) 93 WAIG 1565 [92])
  • New technology, computer skills and literacy (See: Balshaw v Director General of Health [2015] WAIRC 763 (2015) 95 WAIG 1488 [27], Frontline Clerks’ Case [2013] WAIRC 836;(2013) 93 WAIG 1565 [145], Frontline Clerks’ Case [2013] WAIRC 836; (2013) 93 WAIG 1565 [151])
  • Training and mentoring (See: Frontline Clerks’ Case [2013] WAIRC 836;(2013) 93 WAIG 1565 [180])
  • Performing duties that were once performed by a higher-level position (See: Frontline Clerks’ Case [2013] WAIRC 836; (2013) 93 WAIG 1565 [126])
  • Personal qualities of the occupant of a position (See: Frontline Clerks’ Case [2013] WAIRC 836; (2013) 93 WAIG 1565 [63] – [66])
  • Change to the position of itself (See: Frontline Clerks’ Case [2013] WAIRC 836; (2013) 93 WAIG 1565 [57])
  • Similar duties differently described (See: Frontline Clerks’ Case [2013] WAIRC 836; (2013) 93 WAIG 1565 [126])
  • The work of the position is tough or confronting (See: Frontline Clerks’ Case [2013] WAIRC 836; (2013) 93 WAIG 1565 [195])
  • Increased cultural and language issues (See: Frontline Clerks’ Case [2013] WAIRC 836; (2013) 93 WAIG 1565 [198])
  • Filling forms based on information in a manual (See: Frontline Clerks’ Case [2013] WAIRC 836; (2013) 93 WAIG 1565 [243])
  • Working in areas where clients are more questioning or demanding (See: Dornan and Others v Department of Education [2014] WAIRC 325; (2014) 94 WAIG 614 [42])
  • Introduction of statutory licencing requirements (See: Australian Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union re: Child Care Industry (Australian Capital Territory) Award 1998 and Children’s Services (Victoria) Award 1998 – re: Wage rates [2005] AIRC 28 [190])

Frequently asked questions

Yes. It is possible for applications to the Public Service Appeal Board and Public Service Arbitrator to be made by you or by your relevant union.

The Industrial Relations Act 1979 does not provide a right of appeal from decisions of the Public Service Appeal Board or the Public Service Arbitrator.

You can contact the Commission's Registry by email, phone or in-person. We also have helpful Fact Sheets which may assist in answering your questions.

Once the time limit has passed, an employee can still lodge an appeal, however, the appeal will be ‘out of time’, so the appellant must apply to have the appeal accepted out of time. There is space to provide this information within the Form 8B - Notice of Appeal - Government Officers, Public Service Officers. The Board will decide whether the appeal is to be accepted out of time. When the Board is deciding whether to accept an appeal out of time, it is up to the appellant to satisfy the Board that strict compliance with the time limit will ‘work an injustice’. The Board will consider the following four principles, weighed together. The appellant does not necessarily have to satisfy every factor if one factor is extremely compelling. However, it will help their case if they can.

  • Length of the delay:
    If the delay is relatively short, this will tend to indicate that the time limit will ‘work an injustice’ and will favour the appellant.
  • Reasons for the delay:
    Importantly, the appellant must demonstrate two things:

(a) How the reason caused the delay; and

(b) Why compliance with the time limit would 'work an injustice' in light of the reason.

 

Common reasons for delay include:

  • Representative or adviser made a mistake:
    When the delay is caused by the appellant’s representative, not the appellant themselves, this will favour the appellant.
  • Steps to challenge the decision:
    If the appellant was actively contesting the decision, other than by filing an appeal to the Board, this will favour the appellant. Other steps to challenge a decision can include mistakenly filing an application in one of the Commission’s other constituent authorities or writing to the employer to challenge the decision.
  • Personal circumstances of the appellant:
    If the appellant can show that the delay was caused by their personal circumstances and that it would ‘work an injustice’ to strictly comply with the time limit, this will favour the acceptance of the appeal out of time. Inconvenience alone will probably not be adequate.
  • Whether the appellant has an arguable case:
    The merits of the appeal are assessed ‘in a fairly rough and ready way’. This does not place any burden on the appellant. However, if the employer can establish that the appeal has no merit, it will be up to the appellant to show that the appeal does have merit.
  • Prejudice to the employer:
    If the employer can show that they would suffer prejudice if the appeal is accepted out of time, this will weigh against the appeal being accepted out of time. The prejudice must be more than the ‘prejudice of having to meet the proceedings.’

The Commission is committed to ensuring its information, facilities and services are accessible to all members of the Western Australian community. For more information on accessibility, please visit our Access and inclusion page.

The employee and the employer may be represented by another person or they may represent themselves. Parties can be represented by an industrial agent, union or employer association, lawyer, or a relative or friend. Except where the representative is a lawyer, the party being represented must file a Form 11 – Notification of Representative Commencing or Ceasing to Act to confirm that another person is representing them.

An employee can discontinue a claim by filing a Form 1A – Multipurpose Form. If the parties reach agreement, it is generally a requirement that the employee discontinue their claim before the Commission. 

There are generally no other costs associated with your application unless you purchase transcript of the proceedings or summons a witness for hearing. Each party pays their own costs in relation to preparation of their case. This includes legal costs if you decide to engage a lawyer or paid agent to represent you.