Public Service Commissioner: sickies and red tape need to be tackled

by Chloe Taylor16 Mar 2015
John Lloyd, the Public Service Commissioner, has said that the public sector will be clamping down on sickies, underperformers and red tape by launching an investigation into the leaking of information from his office.

In a speech on Wednesday morning, Lloyd spoke about issues such as public servants who take sick leave after “drunken nights” which need to be stamped out in order to stop the wasting of tax payers’ money.

“There are all these anecdotal stories about people in Canberra taking hangover days, then they share a flat with someone who takes a carer's day to look after them,” he said, calling on managers to probe staff who take unscheduled absences.

He added that managers could be part of the problem in leading by example.

“If a manager has a lot of [unscheduled absence] days then so do their staff,” he explained.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that unscheduled absences increased last year from 11.6 days to 12 days per employee, with sick leave being the most accountable reason. It was also reported that previous reports have revealed managers feared being labelled as bullies if they confronted the issue.

Lloyd added that the excessive paperwork managers are required to complete when dealing with performance management should be reduced. He said that this should be left out of enterprise bargaining agreements, and instead dealt with in personnel policies.

Speaking about red tape, Lloyd accepted that the bureaucracy – including his own organisation – was a culprit, adding that he could not comprehend “how small to medium agencies cope” with it.

However, he said that the board of departmental secretaries had recently decided to lessen the paperwork that government agencies imposed on one another.

The paperwork required to hire someone from outside the APS has already been cut from six pages to a maximum of two, with the Public Service Commission looking to reduce its internal paperwork burden.

He said that the federal bureaucracy should look to state public servants for an example of how to complete work “on the smell of an oily rag”, adding that public servants need to stop “running for the hills when things go wrong”.

Lloyd also said that the commission’s leaked information regarding military pay – published earlier this week by The Canberra Times – would be investigated as a breach of the code of conduct.

He said the investigation "might not turn up anything, we'll have to wait and see".

Lloyd said that leaking “lets down people who are conscientious and do the right thing,” and that “if you know someone who has leaked anything you'll never trust them”.
He added that the “we’ll have to wait and see” if the investigation reaches a conclusive outcome.

Related articles:

Ageing workforce taking toll on public sector

Abbott’s contestability program “couldresult in loss of 30,000 government jobs”

Sickies: a century-old problem in Public Service


  • by Sarah 16/03/2015 12:43:27 PM

    It will take a long time to try and change the cultural issues that are embedded into the public service. The staff and managers there have been operating a certain way for years and successfully changing that culture of entitlement (and other issues) will take many years.

  • by Linda Pettersson 16/03/2015 4:42:07 PM

    Yet another blow-in CEO to the Public Sector who peddles age-old stories about sickies and underperformance, then proceeds to threaten action over the apparent leaking of information from his office. Sigh! When will people who assume such offices learn to think before they speak? Issues like these are common to many organisations, not just the Federal public sector. Smart organisations work on identifying the reasons for such things as apparent excessive sick leave, without resorting to sound bites and insulting their staff, and then act on the findings.

Most Read