Pay remote employees more, says Australian union

The argument was made in response to a proposal by former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett to reduce the salaries of public employees who work from home.
By: | July 14, 2023

A proposal by former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett to reduce the salaries of public employees working remotely has drawn criticism from unions and ignited a debate on employee compensation in the realm of remote work.

Kennett argued that individuals working from home should receive lower pay than those who are required to physically attend workplaces, such as emergency service employees and nurses. He justified this stance by stating that remote employees save money and avoid commuting hassles.

However, Julian Kennelly, Media and Communications Manager of the Community Public Sector Union (CPSU), rebuked Kennett’s proposal, calling it “ridiculous”. Contrarily, Kennelly is advocating for higher pay for remote employees and emphasising the additional costs they bear for home offices and IT. “People who are working from home are saving money for their employer,” he argued.

Kennett also raised concerns about a growing psychological divide in society resulting from the rise of remote work. He pointed out that those who choose to work from home are less stressed and enjoy financial savings, while employees who must physically commute to work have no alternative but to bear the financial and mental costs.

Kennett also clarified that his proposal was not based on employee productivity but rather aimed to encourage public sector employees to return to physical office spaces.

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In response, a spokesperson from the public sector union highlighted that 80% of their employees are engaged in fieldwork. The spokesperson argued against removing salary benefits, citing increased productivity rates since the introduction of flexible work arrangements.

The Victorian government has also dismissed Kennett’s suggestion while acknowledging its potential as a bold initiative to motivate employees to return to the office. However, they indicated that they would not pursue the proposal, reported 9News.