Their union has long known staff at the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) are overworked. Now the Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) has agreed
After complaints from members about their high workloads resulting in thousands of hours in lost flex time, the PSA applied to the IRC for the making of a new Award to address the issue of overwork. Previously, lawyers would accrue flex hours for their overtime. However, this was limited to 50 hours. Any additional hours would be forfeited.
The PSA provided a number of witnesses who had forfeited hundreds of hours each. In one case, a lawyer had forfeited 1115 hours.
This situation was a major contributing factor to the high levels of discontent at ODPP revealed in the recent People Matters Employment Survey.
In evidence, PSA CPSU NSW Industrial Officer Dean Allen said, “Based on the data provided in the spread sheet, solicitors who were contracted to work 210 hours in a six-week flex period worked on average an additional 20 hours during this six-week period.”
The IRC called for a new Award with no forfeiture of flex hours. In the absence of agreement between the lawyer and their supervisor, any flex hours above 50 at the end of a settlement period will be paid as overtime.
In addition, the bandwidth will be reduced to 7:30am to 6:30pm, weekdays.
Prior approval to work overtime will not be required in the case of unforeseen or exceptional circumstances.
If a lawyer routinely seeks approval to work overtime, their supervisor should meet with them to discuss their workload and why their work is unable to be performed during contract hours.
A consultative committee comprising representatives of the PSA and ODPP management will be formed.