Outdoor Work Allowance win

The CPSU wins key changes to Outdoor Work Allowance resulting in more employees getting more money and fairer implementation - thanks to the support and dedication of union members and delegates.

It pays to be a member of the CPSU because we fight for fair. If you are not already a CPSU member join here today!


With the amalgamation of the Department of Environment and Energy (DOEE) and the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR) in February last year, the basis for employee’s working conditions became the DOEE agreement (unless you were a Meat Inspector who were covered by their own EA). This was supplemented by a range of entitlements (including for groups such as Biosecurity employees and veterinarians) that were contained in determinations.

Outdoor work allowance (clause 5.25 to 5.27 of the DOEE agreement) clearly now applied to many ex DAWR employees who had not previously received it by virtue of the fact that they perform regular outdoor work.

But which ex DAWR employees should get the allowance and at what rate?

The CPSU has been pursuing a fair outcome to these questions for many months. Initially the Department proposed a complex process involving multiple rates which did not comply with the wording of the agreement.

After strong and united member opposition the Department, to its credit, took a step back and convened a series of focus groups to examine the issues. CPSU Section Secretary Kelly Miller and NT Section Councillor Pat Goda worked hard with the focus group nominees to support a simpler model which maximised both the number of eligible employees and the amount to be paid within the constraints of the agreement clause.

This table outlines eligibility for the allowance and the rates for ex DAWR employees

Delays create anxiety

As the months rolled on with no payment, and backpay owed to employees mounted, understandably, concern grew. A new problem became apparent. The Department’s payroll system was not equipped to pay the allowance and much work has been required by an already stretched group of workers to make the required changes to facilitate the payment.

This is not the only issue with the Department’s payroll and IT systems but that can wait for another news story. 

Finally pay day will arrive

Now however the finish line is in sight. Recent communications to the CPSU and employees state the following:

Outdoor work allowance update

We have recently settled which former agriculture functions are eligible for the Outdoor Work Allowance (OWA). If you are eligible, you will soon receive an email with additional information.

On 10 June, eligible staff will be paid a lump sum back-payment of OWA for the period 1 February 2020 to 31 March 2021. A further lump sum back-payment for the period 1 April 2021 to 9 June 2021 will then be made on payday 24 June 2021. Once the lump sum payments have been made, fortnightly payments in arrears will commence until an automated payroll solution is implemented.

For hundreds of employees this will mean backpay of around $3,000. It pays to be in the CPSU!

Advocating for you

This issue represents just one of the many areas where CPSU members, delegates, organisers and industrial specialists have been working for months to achieve an outcome.

And to give credit where its due, the Department listened to CPSU arguments and was prepared to alter its position. It also clearly demonstrates the value of union membership. If you are reading this and you’re not already a union member join the CPSU today.