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Position Classification

Posted 5 July 2011 by Helen McLennan (University of New England)

Position Classification Seminar update
Over UNE General 40 staff members attended an NTEU seminar on Position Classification. The seminar, which was organised via the NTEU General Staff Working Party representative Claire Girvin, focussed on the history of the classification system, how it works and processes and entitlements. There was plenty of time  for questions.
Michael Thompson, NTEU President Sydney University spoke about the benefits of the current HEO Classification System, which brought together 100s of disparate trade, technical and administrative tasks and skill levels, into a hierarchy of skills, responsibilities, problem solving and leadership requirements of the position. Thus, in 1993, 10 HEO classification levels were established;  enabling transferability between universities and comparison between positions.
Jo Kowalcyzck (Senior Organiser, NTEU) spoke about the processes and entitlements provided under the classification system. Classification is about the position and not the individual.  The duty statement should describe the job as it currently exists.  Duty statements are classified in accordance with the descriptors, or in the case of UNE, the enhanced descriptors. The UNE enhanced descriptors are included in the Enterprise Agreement.
In accordance with the current Enterprise Agreement, general staff at UNE have the right to a review of their duty statement and a right to not be disadvantaged by a review.  If members are unhappy with the classification process the NTEU can lodge a dispute with Fair Work Australia.  Note that a dispute can only be lodged on the process and not the substance. One of the biggest triggers for a review is that a position has not been reviewed in the past 12 months.  Staff must request a review through their supervisor but this cannot be unreasonably denied. 


The main points to remember about Position Classification are:
1. All General Staff positions should have an up-to-date  position description  that accurately reflects the position dimensions, objective, duties, qualifications and selection criteria and to whom the position holder reports.
2. Each General Staff member must be consulted about any proposed changes to the position description.
3. An employee may apply through their supervisor to have the HEO level of their position statement reviewed in order to establish the appropriate HEO level and remuneration of that position.
Question time provided space to discuss local issues, with the main points being frustration with the tardiness of position description updates for technical staff, and frustration with process at UNE.


Advice for people seeking reclassification:
•    Write down what you do in a diary.  Describe duties as accurately as possible, i.e. consider whether you interpret policy, develop policy or give advice about policy.  Then check these duties/responsibilities against the descriptors.
•    Talk to people who do similar jobs, i.e. in another Faculty.
•    Look at and compare the descriptors for jobs that are one step below and one step above.

The UNE General Staff Working Party decided to run a survey for all UNE General staff, to ascertain how staff think the present system is working. NTEU Position Classification survey is open to all UNE General Staff and can be found at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/PositionClassification

Since the seminar the Union have assisted more than 15 members with queries about reclassification.

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