The case for working from home just got easier

Commonwealth public servants will be able to work full-time, with a “bias to yes” in managements considering requests – so will workers at Uni Sydney.

The new enterprise agreement at the university states that professional staff are employed “to undertake their roles on campus” but they can work remotely, which “will not be unreasonably refused” and is subject to appeal if it is.

Plus, the Community and Public Sector Union reports bargaining agreement with the Australian Public Service Commission on flexible working arrangements, including no cap on days worked away from the office.

They are wins that have not been matched by university managements keen to get students and staff back to campus after COVID.

Remote work rights for professional staff are in union logs of claims for the present bargaining round, but in early agreements they have been carefully qualified by managements, which want people on-site.

As they have no hope of breaking the long-established practice of academics setting their own days in the office, the emphasis has been on getting professional staff back on site.

The Fair Work Commission made the case for university managements in a work from home dispute at the University of Tasmania last year. Deputy President Bell stated that the case for working remotely focused on tasks being performed satisfactorily away from the office, but, “there are less tangible benefits of having people working physically together,” particularly “the interactions and the engagements that occur”.

The importance of these interactions – also often a facet of teamwork – should not be underestimated.”

Which the Australian Higher Education Industrial Association, representing most universities, agreed with – in the process explaining why managements want people populating their expensive real estate.

“With universities endeavouring to ensure that students can still access a ‘campus experience,’ the decision provides quite specific guidance on where expectations can be set.”

Not now. The CPSU and University of Sydney management and unions have seen to that.

Uni Sydney has long been a sector leader on wages and conditions – it has done it again.    



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