The Immigration Department is cracking down on intoxication and distractions in the workplace, imposing a stricter regime in their offices.
The Canberra Times reported that the department is planning to breathalyse and drug test its workforce of 8500 public servants, as well as introduce tougher regulations when it comes to second jobs, social media use and personal appearances.
These changes are due to come as the Customs agency increases scrutiny around immigration.
The Canberra Times recently reported that before the Christmas break, employees of the Immigration Department were told that they will be subject to the “integrity framework” used by the Customs Department. The two departments will merge in July to become the Australian Border Force.
Eighteen major new workplace policies were sent out for consultation, including drug and alcohol rules which will give managers the power to carry out both random and targeted tests for alcohol or narcotics on Immigration officials as they are working.
A spokeswoman for the Immigration Department said last week that the new framework was a necessary aspect of the department’s new “mission”.
“In the context of the new department individual staff will be exposed to a broader range of vulnerabilities and risks,” she said. “Our integrity must be of the highest order and our behaviour consistent with the laws we enforce. While the vast majority of our combined workforce displays exemplary integrity, we must do everything we can to protect our workforce and our organisation from criminal influence and actions.”
The following new rules are set to be integrated into the Immigration Department from March.
Random drug and alcohol testing
Employees will be penalised if they are found to have a blood alcohol reading of above 0.02 or are deemed to be “impaired” by illegal or prescription drugs while on duty.
These changes to were outlined in a fact-sheet given to the department’s workers.
“The portfolio has zero-tolerance for the possession, use of trafficking of prohibitive drugs and DIBP and ACBPS are alcohol free workplaces,” it read. “Workers found to be in breach of this policy can expect to face serious consequences including code of conduct investigations that can lead to the imposition of sanctions including the termination of employment.”
Compulsory reporting of colleagues’ misconduct
In addition to the new regulations, a new mandatory reporting regime is set to be put into place, and will require immigration officials to report colleagues who they suspect of any form of misconduct – even if such behaviour occurs away from the workplace.
Any work – even voluntary roles – undertaken outside of the department must be reported to bosses.
Social media crackdown
The severe new social media policy is designed to prevent security breaches as well as embarrassment to the new ABF.
“Inappropriate use of social media, social networking services, or official email, instant messaging or online platforms could compromise DIBP staff and Customs workers and potentially their family and friends as well as jeopardise their careers,” a briefing note stated.
Strict rules on employee appearance
“Dress-down” days are to be banned, with jeans and revealing tops amongst the non-uniform items of clothing to be prohibited. A conservative style will be enforced, meaning that employees will be made to cover tattoos and keep hair and make-up natural-looking.
The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) sent out a bulletin to members, which said that the new rules are causing “significant concern” among workers in the department, with some workers planning to hold meetings from this month to discuss them.
Current employees of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection are set for a change in their workplace this year, as they become one half of the new Australian Border Force (ABF).