Commission dismisses government officer’s denial of contractual benefits claim
The Commission has dismissed the claim of a government officer claiming a denied benefit in the form of a government vehicle. The Commission found that it did not have jurisdiction on the matter, noting that the Public Service Arbitrator has jurisdiction to deal with industrial matters relating to government officers
The applicant had previously been given the benefit of a government vehicle scheme vehicle. The applicant, upon being transferred to the respondent from another government department, had been given a written assurance on 9 August 2017 that continuation of the vehicle benefit would be part of the conditions of the mutually agreed process to transfer. The applicant was advised in 2022 that the benefit to the vehicle would be withdrawn from 1 November 2022.
The applicant commenced proceedings in the Commission, claiming the respondent has denied her a benefit of her contract of employment by denying access to a government vehicle scheme vehicle.
The respondent applied for the summary dismissal of the applicant’s claim on the basis that the Commission did not have jurisdiction to determine their claim.
The parties agreed that the applicant is a government officer for the purposes of s 80C of the Industrial Relations Act 1979 (WA) (IR Act).
The applicant did not seek to make any submissions in opposition to the summary dismissal application. The respondent contended that the Public Service Arbitrator has exclusive jurisdiction over industrial matters relating government officers under s 80E of the IR Act (to the exclusion of the general jurisdiction of the Commission).
The Commission noted that the Public Service Arbitrator has exclusive jurisdiction to enquire into and deal with industrial matters relating to government officers, according to s 80E of the IR Act. The Commission noted that this was supported by Crowley v Chief Executive Officer, Department of Commerce  WAIRC 00262; (2017) 97 WAIG 454 and Chief Executive Officer, Department of Agriculture and Food v Trevor James Ward  WAIRC 00079; (2008) 88 WAIG 156.
The Commission noted that the respondent was established as a State Government Department pursuant to s 35(1)(a) of the Public Sector Management Act 1994 (WA). The Commission found that the respondent was a public authority as this includes a State Government department.
The Commission found that the applicant was a government officer under the definition in s 80C of the IR Act as the applicant was a part of the salaried staff of a public authority. The Commission considered the applicant’s role as within the professional ranks of the public service and of the type of specific employees identified as salaried staff in McGinty v Department of Corrective Services  WAIRC 00054; (2012) 92 WAIG 190. The Commission noted that the history and scope of the industrial agreement governing the applicant’s employment supported this conclusion.
The Commission found that the applicant was a government officer and that the Commission did not have jurisdiction in respect of this claim, meaning that the claim was dismissed.
The decision can be read here.