05 May 2021

These questions and answers provide information on the Public Service Pay Guidance and the Public Service Commissioner’s further advice. They provide additional detail on how the Guidance is to be applied.

Which agencies does the Guidance cover?

The Guidance applies to Public Service departments and departmental agencies. The Public Service Commissioner has asked other public sector agencies, including the health and education sectors, to take the same approach as outlined in the Guidance to their pay decisions.

What does the advice do?

The advice provides additional detail on how the Public Service Pay Guidance is to be applied. It also addresses correspondence between ministers and unions after the Guidance was published.

Does this advice change the Guidance?

No. The Guidance is unchanged except for the review date, which has been brought forward to the end of 2022.

Who is likely to receive pay rises under the Guidance?

Many public servants will receive pay rises through progression entitlements provided for in their employment agreements, which allow them to move through the current pay band for their role.

In addition to progression, there is flexibility in the Guidance to lift the pay bands of those earning below $60,000 and increase their pay.

And for those earning between $60,000 and $100,000 there are a number of criteria that allow for pay adjustments.

The Guidance says the pay of those earning above $100,000 should be held, unless there are exceptional circumstances.

What are the exceptional circumstances that allow for someone earning over $100,000 to get a pay increase?

This includes where there is a special and distinct rationale such as pay bands have not been adjusted for a number of years, or there are significant retention issues affecting the agency’s delivery of service. These may result in a pay increase for someone earning over $100,000.

What about cost-of-living claims?

Unions can bring cost of living claims to the bargaining table, employers will consider and respond to these claims. The advice says employers should steer outcomes to lifting low pay. If claims are raised for people earning over $100,000, bands should be held, but employers may consider alternatives to permanent salary increases.

Are adjustments for those earning between $60,000 and $100,000 only possible where automatic progression has previously been negotiated and agreed?

No. Pay adjustments can also occur in accordance with criteria in the Guidance:

  • modest progression within a band (this means adjustments are possible for public servants within their pay band)
  • demonstrable recruitment pressures that cannot be addressed solely through modest progression increases
  • the increase is related to the introduction of a remuneration system consistent with this Guidance.

What does progression mean?

Progression is the movement of an individual through the pay band that applies to their role.

For instance, if an individual’s pay band is $65,000 to $75,000 and they currently earn $67,000, then the Guidance gives scope for “modest progression within the band.”

Are staff on IEAs also entitled to progression under the Guidance?

Yes, if that is provided for in their employment agreement.

Can someone on an individual employment agreement get a pay rise?

Those with IEAs linked to a collective agreement can access a pay rise in the same way as those as those on collective agreements. Those on IEAs not linked to a collective agreement should be considered for pay rises in accordance with the Guidance.

Will pay increases that have already been agreed be delivered?

Yes. Pay increases that have already been agreed in settled collective agreements will be honoured.

What does the Guidance mean for pay equity claims?

Pay equity claims will continue to be progressed and at an accelerated rate.

Will the Guidance have any impact on the work to close the gender and ethnic pay gaps?

It will help to focus attention on closing these gaps as it prioritises addressing gender and ethnic pay inequities.