Doing other work? What does your Council do about section 353?

Section 353 of the Local Government Act requires employees who want to, or are doing work outside the Council that relates to or conflicts with their council job, to declare that work and seek the general manager’s approval.
 
It’s not a general opportunity to pry into the private lives of employees, look under their beds or do anything else quite that furtive or prurient.
 
We ran a big dispute against Sydney Council in 1994 when the prurient there decided they wanted employees to declare all work. All unions were involved, members of the three unions had placed bans on complying with the proposed new arrangements, the Labor Council of NSW at the time appeared in support and the DLG eventually advised the Council that while they could develop their own policies on managing other work, whatever they did had to be consistent with the Act.
 
As part of the dispute the Industrial Relations Commission directed that the Council not proceed with this policy until such time as an agreement had been reached with the unions in dispute or the dispute had been resolved by the Commission. Subsequently the Council agreed that it would only require employees to declare work for approval that was consistent with section 353 and that related to or conflicted with their Council job. 
 
But, while this agreement was made between the unions and the Council in the Commission, without advice to those unions which had the agreement with the Council, the Council reverted to the old practice -  looking under the bed, peeking through your window, going through your drawers. If it doesn’t relate to or conflict with the job, it’s none of the council’s business. It’s an invasion of your privacy.
 
Adversarial jurisdictions like industrial tribunals rely upon parties bargaining in good faith and sticking to agreements that they have made. There are few things worse than one party breaching an agreement or abandoning it without telling the other parties. 
 
It may have been accidental, changing faces in HR can’t always be aware of the history that precedes them and we are pursuing Sydney Council now. They don’t really do themselves any favours by responding to our comprehensive argument that they are reviewing it and will respond “in due course”. Sir Humphrey would be proud.
 
We regularly remind members about the purpose of section 353 and ask you to let us know if your council is doing the right thing. The Council can only ask you to declare and seek approval for work which relates to or conflict with - nothing more and nothing less.
 
Please let us know if any councils are out there doing what Sydney is doing.
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