Opinion Number. 1053

Subject

PUBLIC SERVICE WHETHER TEMPORARY EMPLOYEES ACQUIRE ANY SPECIAL RIGHTS BY REASON OF LONG SERVICE: WHETHER TEMPORARY EMPLOYEES MAY PROPERLY BE PERMANENTLY APPOINTED WITH RETROSPECTIVITY

Key Legislation

COMMONWEALTH PUBLIC SERVICE ACT 1902

Date
Client
The Secretary, Department of Joint House Committee

The Secretary, Department of the Joint House Committee, has forwarded to me for advice the following minute:

I have the honour to ask the favour of an opinion on the following question: Some of the employees of the Department of Joint House Committee, who have not been permanently appointed by Order in Council, nor exempted from the provi-sions of the Public Service Act, have occupied their positions continuously for some years, for periods dating back variously to 1919, 1915, 1911, 1906 and in one case 1901.

It appears necessary either that these 'temporary' officers should be permanently appointed, or that they should be exempted from the provisions of the Public Service Act or their services be dispensed with.

As it may be considered necessary in the interests of economy to dismiss one or more of them, would you be good enough to advise as to whether these officers have,

by reason of the unusual manner in which they have been retained on the staff, acquired any rights under which they could not now be dispensed with as temporary employees, or which might entitle them to monetary allowance or other consideration on being called upon to leave.

I would be glad to know also whether, in placing some of these officers upon a permanent footing, it would be permissible to make the appointments retrospective, and so confer certain rights and privileges which would have been acquired had the appointments been made in, say, the years mentioned above. The Commonwealth Public Service Act 1902-1918 does not accord any rights in the nature of pay in lieu of furlough to officers temporarily employed, and I do not think that length of service in a temporary capacity operates to restrict the right of dismissal.

An appointment should commence on the date upon which it is made or on some future date. The making of appointments with retrospective operation dating back in some case for twenty years is an unusual step, which should not be taken without full consideration of the relative rights of other officers.

[Vol. 17, p. 271]