ATO boss addresses nine minute add-on proposal

by Chloe Taylor14 Dec 2015
A year and a half ago, enterprise bargaining began at the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), with the government agency asking its 20,000 employees to work for nine minutes extra per day.

This meant that they would be clocking off at 5pm instead of 4.51pm.

Now, the ATO’s request is being put to the test, with staff due to vote on the offer of a 6% pay rise over three years in exchange for the extra time.

The 6% increase is the maximum pay rise allowed under the federal government’s bargaining policy, but if it was accepted staff would also experience cuts to their allowances for health and wellbeing, part day and incidental travel, and field work.

Last week, second commissioner Geoff Leeper reportedly sent ATO employees an email that argued in favour of the offer.

“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,” he wrote.

“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.”

Leeper also said that hourly rates of pay would increase if the offer was accepted, and that 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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