Workplace reform

A key component of the Amalgamation Toolkit is the Local Government Workplace Reform Kit: Managing Workplace Change (PDF, 1.4MB). This was developed by LGNSW in late 2015 to help members manage the workplace issues that will arise from the reform process. The Workplace Reform Kit will assist councils to meet their legal and ethical obligations to their employees.

Past experience of both forced and voluntary amalgamations and boundary changes shows that managing the workforce and workplace issues is one of the most significant challenges to be faced. For many communities, local government is a very important employer, and councils rely on a high quality workforce to undertake their vital roles in service delivery, planning and regulation. The disruption associated with structural reform can all too easily generate widespread concerns about potential redundancies, reduced local employment and commensurate cuts to services. These risks have been minimised by protective employment legislation, a flexible award and established industrial practices, but considerable expertise is required to use those measures to best effect. 

Stage 1 - Review

Human Resource Management

  • Commence review of existing business systems and system requirements, including Payroll.
  • Ensure workforce plan is up to date and captures current employee allocation. Take note of all positions (including tasks, status, skills, tenure, vacancies, contractors etc.).
  • Develop and implement internal communications strategy including all forms of communication channels i.e. intranet, face to face, specific reform communications etc.
  • Review current Employee Assistance Program arrangements to ensure all employees are aware of and have access to the service 7 days a week.

Employee Relations

  • In the context of Enterprise Agreements, commence collation and review of industrial arrangements.
  • Prepare to develop an overarching Industrial Framework for the new entity, by reviewing current IR systems and processes.
  • Confirm current workforce profile, including fully reviewing all position descriptions to ensure an accurate reflection of functions, responsibilities and delegations of authority etc. Ensure that HR and Payroll databases are accurate.
  • Inventory, review and assess all contracts, identifying entitlements and benefits.
  • Update the volunteer register and ensure volunteers are engaged and well informed of any transition planning and activities. Communicate a clear statement emphasising the important and valued contribution of volunteers.

Organisational development

  • Continue to engage employees in the reform process. Assess current levels of engagement and encourage employees to communicate or become actively involved in transition activities.
  • Determine current skill levels internally in relation to: change management, culture change, leadership, problem solving, emotional intelligence and other change skills and competencies.
  • Assist leaders of the amalgamation in preparing an enterprise-wide Change Management Strategy.
  • Assist leaders of the amalgamation in implementing the People and Culture Survey to benchmark the current level of engagement.
  • Commence mapping of current professional training and development programs and schedules. Begin to identify re-training options and requirements necessary for new corporate systems and processes.

Stage 2 - Plan

Human Resources Management

  • Collate and review all merging partners’ Workforce Plans, as first step in preparation of a new Workforce Plan.
  • Collate and review all merging partners’ strategic and operational policies and plans relating to human resource management, employee relations and organisational development. This may include Management Plans, Equal Employment Opportunity Plans, Disability Access and Inclusion Plans, Equal Employment Opportunity Management Plans and the Code of Conduct. Commence consolidation of all plans, including better practice.
  • Analyse and develop draft policies and procedures (particularly a Human Resource Management policy and procedure manual for adoption at a later stage), taking into consideration all legislative requirements and obligations, the cost of new policies and budget implications.
  • Implement appropriate support services to ensure employee wellbeing. These should include:
    • Continued provision of the Employee Assistance Program arrangements. Review the Program as appropriate, and consider establishing a peer support program.
    • Outplacement services such as career counselling, resume preparation, job application and interview techniques, financial advice and lifestyle/early retirement guidance. Engage external service providers as appropriate.
    • Reviewed Grievance Policy statements, procedures and processes, communicated to employees.
  • Liaise with leaders of the amalgamation to support the development of the interim new entity structure. Commence identification of roles and responsibilities, and establish agreed processes for job design. Map all positions including contracts to the interim service delivery model (when possible). In doing so:
    • Identify occupational licensing arrangements.
    • Prepare job specifications.
    • Identify new positions, prepare Position Descriptions (PDs) and classify positions as required.
  • Identify HR / ER impact of the interim service delivery model.
  • Identify and collate current workers compensation and rehabilitation (WCR) claims and determine insurance/premium status. Establish a methodology to manage the merging of the WCR programs and actions plans, and determine and document financial impact.
  • Establish a uniform working group and work in partnership with the Marketing Department to provide employees with newly branded uniforms (if applicable). In doing so, identify priority positions for rebranding first (consider customer facing positions first), engage a service provider for the production of new uniforms and ensure all Workplace Health and Safety requirements are met.
  • Working with ICT / Business systems teams, map and consolidate systems and critical functions. Establish a plan for systems development and transition.
  • Ensure letters of appointment for employees from the new entity are distributed prior to Commencement Day.

Employee Relations

  • For the purposes of enterprise agreements, commence a comparative analysis of industrial instruments, identifying parity and differences between existing agreements. Commence the consolidation process.
  • Develop a project plan to drive the development of a new industrial framework and Agreement for the new entity. Engage unions and include better practice systems and process for managing IR matters and procedures for the new entity.
  • Establish an inventory of contracts within the merging partners. In doing so, collate and review all terms and conditions of individual contracts, identify deficiencies and necessary actions, identify contracts nearing expiry and develop necessary actions.
  • Ensure employees are well informed regarding their entitlements and contractual obligations regarding job security. Develop effective two-communication pathways and implement employee information sessions.
  • Establish transition and retention plan and processes for volunteers and explore local placement opportunities. Prepare a Volunteer Induction Pack and ensure volunteers are engaged and informed.
  • Identify and consider all unique employment arrangements, including:
    • Staff who are employed through employment agencies on a ‘labour hire’ basis. Determine ongoing need for labour hire workers and liaise with labour hire agencies to advise regarding requirements for their staff.
    • Employees who identify as having a disability, and/or who are employed on the basis of supported wages. Identify and contact any/all agencies supporting employees with disabilities.
    • Overseas workers, their visa status and the term of their contracts and establish new working arrangements, including undertaking any requisite visa approval process with the Department of Immigration & Border Control.
    • Trainees, apprentices or cadets: Consider associated schemes, contracts with external providers (such as a Group Training Scheme) and advise trainees, apprentices and cadets of the continuity of their programs as appropriate.
    • Casual and temporary employee: Establish a transition plan and process for casual and temporary employees, including exploring local placement/job share opportunities, standardising documentation and contracts and considering potential loss of corporate knowledge.
  • Establish a policy and process for negotiation and harmonisation of entitlement and benefits. The process should include identifying entitlements and benefits requiring harmonisation and developing a policy and process for rationalisation of employee benefits i.e. use of Council vehicle.
  • Adopt a case management approach and explore opportunities for redeployment or alternative redundancy options. In doing so:
    • Develop and communicate a redundancy process and identify and consult with all affected employees.
    • Establish policy, process and timeframes to: call for; assess; and implement voluntary redundancies.
    • Identify affected employees and commence discussions, ensuring Employee Assistance Programs and outplacement services are accessible and promoted.

Organisational development

  • With amalgamation leaders, consider re-implementing People and Culture Survey to measure employee satisfaction levels and effectiveness of organisational development strategies.
  • Review all current organisational development plans from the merging Local Governments and commence consolidation.
  • Develop a new entity training framework to cover:
    • New organisational systems, software and processes.
    • Technical re-training options and requirements as necessary.
    • New entity induction / orientation program for employees.
  • Review change management skills and competencies and develop a training program to support key change leadership positions.
  • Review current performance management frameworks and develop draft framework and procedures for the new entity. Including templates, processes, appraisals, corporate values etc.

Stage 3 - Mobilise

Human Resources Management

  • Identify workforce implications for the new entity, including priorities, actions and responsibilities, asset management and long term financial planning requirements.
  • Commence consolidation of Human Resources Management plans, identifying budget implications and integrating into the Annual Budget 2015/16.
  • Continue to provide Employee Assistance Program services 7 days a week, Grievance Processes and Outplacement Services. Review for effectiveness, communicate any changes and establish designated, trained officers as needed.
  • Implement uniform re-branding strategy, rolling out rebranding for priority positions.
  • Merge and archive all personnel records in accordance with statutory requirements.
  • Explore ICT/Business System criteria and selection, and develop a procurement plan.

Employee Relations

  • Finalise the new Industrial Agreement and draft budget. In doing so, review and amend consultation/communications plan as required and engage employees and representatives.
  • Finalise the draft Industrial Framework for the new entity. Prepare summary report outlining framework, processes and induction program. Identify industrial disputes in Court and under investigation. Maintain currency of schedule in readiness for transition to new entity / adjusting local government.
  • In accordance with the interim Corporate Business Plan and proposed interim service delivery model, finalise interim new entity structure including budget estimates. Review net impact of transition of employees and document changes accordingly i.e. PD’s.
  • Finalise the placement and redeployment policy and process. Communicate Policy to all affected employees, consult as appropriate and document processes and timeframes for affected employees.
  • Finalise re-negotiation of entitlements and benefits with affected employees in accordance with legislative and policy guidelines.
  • Continue to case manage all contracted employees and explore transition options with employees.
  • Continue to case manage redundant positions, keeping employees appropriately informed and supported.
  • Implement volunteer transition and retention plan and processes, including inductions.
  • Ensure casual and temporary employees are considered and kept informed. Review termination dates and reinstatement dates, if applicable.

Organisational development

  • Implement merging cultures and change management strategies. Ensure ongoing review and monitor level of employee engagement.
  • Continue corporate systems training for relevant employees, new organisational orientation sessions for all employees where necessary and training of redeployed employees to different positions / inheriting new responsibilities. Identify re-training options on ongoing basis.

Stage 4 - Implement

Human Resource Management

  • Prioritise business/ICT systems harmonisation in line with new organisational capacity and needs.
  • Implement the Workforce Plan, within the framework of the IPR and supporting the interim new entity structure.
  • Continue to provide Employee Assistance Program services 7 days a week, Grievance Processes and Outplacement Services. Review for effectiveness and communicate any changes.
  • Finalise all consolidated strategic and operational plans.
  • Prepare and adopt Policies, Delegations and Procedure Manual, ensuring all cost implications are included in the annual budget 2016/17.
  • Establish a methodology to manage the merging of the Workers Compensation and Rehabilitation programs and actions plans. Consolidate current claims, confirm insurance/premium status and determine and document financial impact.
  • Adopt and implement the Interim Organisational Structure. Implement transition placements and redeployment in accordance with policy.

Employee Relations

  • Negotiate final Industrial Agreement, including financial implications in the Long Term Financial Plan. Commence transition to new Agreement.
  • Finalise the new Industrial Framework for the new entity. Present summary report outlining framework and process. Commence education program to socialise the new framework.
  • Ensure Casual and Temporary Workers, Overseas Workers and Volunteer transition plans are implemented effectively.
  • Commence monitoring and reporting of transition including employee transmittal, employee morale, customer satisfaction and impact to service delivery model.

Organisational development

  • Continue corporate systems training for relevant employees, new organisational orientation sessions for all employees where necessary and training of redeployed employees to different positions / inheriting new responsibilities. Continue to identify re-training options.
  • Finalise Organisational Development Plan for the new entity, and ensure strategies are in place to address post-merger issues.
  • Consider implementing a further People and Culture Survey (PDF,391KB)  to monitor cultural impact.
  • Finalise and implement performance management framework and procedures for the new entity, including standardised processes and templates and training for all employees and employees with management/supervisory responsibilities.