Last week IPAA SA President and Commissioner for Public Sector Employment, Erma Ranieri, was the first guest for On the Couch – our first virtual instalment in this series. PwC Partner, Marcus Catchpole led the discussion on current advice to South Australian public sector employees and the unique role of Commissioner Ranieri and her office in this unprecedented time.

The opening discussion focused on the role of the Commissioner for Public Sector Employment during a global pandemic. Commissioner Ranieri highlighted the role is constantly evolving as this type of event has not been seen in recent times. The Commissioner views her role as setting and clarifying employment arrangements for public sector employees and planning the workforce response to directions from the State and Federal governments. This includes deciding how self-isolating and social distancing practices can be implemented across the sector and what this will look like for public sector staff.

The Commissioner said her office is also a point of information and communication, where public sector employees can access current advice for associated leave entitlements and working arrangements, under the current pandemic situation.

The ‘Commissioner’s Determination 3.1’ is currently the best place to find the latest advice on leave including COVID-19 leave. The Commissioner stressed the importance of employees familiarising themselves with these documents and being aware of what’s expected of them and how the conditions of their employment have adapted to meet new changes and challenges.

The continually evolving COVID-19 situation and response was also explored, as the Commissioner shared her hope for flattening the curve of infections and continuing to be able to support and implement measures across the public sector to assist in this respect.

In the event of a critical proportion of the state public sector workforce becoming unavailable, Commissioner Ranieri outlined the role of her office in mobilising the whole of workforce to respond effectively and to move people and capabilities around where they are most needed.

Mr Catchpole asked about some of the less obvious roles that the public sector plays in this situation. Commissioner Ranieri explained that the public sector is a huge portion of the SA workforce and that the roles everyone will play are varied from critical frontline services such as doctors and nurses – to the people behind them, supporting them in being able to deliver these vital services. She said this includes a wide breadth of employees; from those ordering medical equipment – to those in Shared Services and SuperSA  – ensuring that employees are paid.  The Commissioner highlighted the importance of balancing the support for both front line, and behind-the-scenes services to ensure continuity to serve the community.

Above all, the Commissioner praised the response of all public sector employees in facing this challenging situation, emphasising the importance of continuing to care for one another in the workplace, even in the form of a phone call or video chat. Commissioner Ranieri shared that everyone is  worried about vulnerable members of the family but that “we are all in this together.”

You can view the full interview below as the Commissioner answers further audience questions and expands on the evolving situation. 




Disclaimer: This is an unedited transcript of the discussion.


For the latest information and resources please view the OCPSE website.