by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
Maritime Logistics Community News : December 2008
36 NAVY SUPPLY NEWSLETTER SPRING 2008 Flexible Work Practices at Sea – An Alternate Approach Introduction The Supply Officer Primary Qualification (SU PQ) is at a delicate state with considerable shortages of trained and effective personnel. To address this, a number of initiatives have already been implemented or planned including: early promotion to LEUT after gaining PQ, Naval Officer Development Program (NODP), introduction of the Supply (SU) Charge Badge, and Civilian Accreditation, to name but a few. The SU PQ is increasingly experiencing a vacuum between trainees and SO Pool officers available to undertake Sea Charge. If this is not addressed by undertaking a change in direction, the Supply Branch will become unsustainable in the near future. This will place an increased burden upon the Post Charge Pool of Supply Officers leading to increased separations and a very bleak future. These issues are not restricted to the SU PQ alone, with many similar problems being faced by other PQs. It is therefore necessary to implement Flexible Work Practices (FWP) at sea for Supply Officers wanting to undertake Sea Charge. In 2005, LCDR Christina Ween (then LEUT) provided a discussion paper to offer another option to the SU posting tenure at sea through FWP. This posting would allow the SO position onboard a MFU to have two Officers share the position on a 6-9 month rotational arrangement where one officer would be at sea and the other ashore; they would conduct a number of “swaps” during the posting cycle with their counterpart. Changes to the labour force have provided a more diverse workforce than previously experienced. This is due to increased participation of women in the labour force, as well as the generational trend of changing jobs several times over the course of a working life. Demographic data shows that the age profile of today’s Supply Officer is much different to that of previous times due to the fact that modes of entry are now quite diverse. Also noteworthy is that the percentage of females (32% total SU) is higher than the Navy as a whole with a significant number currently in the training pipeline. The SU PQ has traditionally been a popular choice for females but the pool of Supply Officers was previously bigger and expected sea time was less. This issue was identified in the Supply Officer Career and Family study in 2001 and continues to be a factor today. The FWP paper was endorsed by the HSuC last year and passed to DNOP to scope the Supply Officer community for volunteers to trial the FWP option. After 12 months the FWP has stalled due to a lack of volunteers. Following discussions with SO SU/AD indications are that there are a number of key problems with the current proposal to allow Supply Officers the option to undertake this FWP option. A number of these issues include: o Job Sharing. Career pinnacle for junior Supply Officers is Supply Sea Charge. The thought of ‘sharing’ the department does not sit well as it may be perceived as a failure in not completing the time on your own, having conflicts with your relief (who makes the driving decisions) etc and inconsistencies with DSO and departmental development. o Timing. There is difficulty in having two Supply Officers at the same time ready to trial the FWP option. Posting cycles, locality, training etc are BY LCdR dEAN MCCoRMACK, RAN ANd LCdR CHRISTINA WEEN, RAN EdITEd BY SBLT KELLI LUNT RANR some of the pressures in identifying two willing Supply Officers who align in the posting cycle. o Location. There is also difficulty in having two officers who wish to work in the alternate position ashore at the same job to enable job rotation. The variety in job selection pre-charge allows most officers to have a diverse posting history. Where one officer may desire time at FHQ to increase work knowledge, the other officer may have just completed time at FHQ and may be seeking alternate postings to DMO or even remotely to Canberra for career diversification. These issues, and many others, have provided considerable challenges to DNOP in finding volunteers to conduct the FWP trial. LCDR Dean McCormack suggests a supplementary proposal to the FWP trial that may better meet the needs of those officers seeking a more flexible approach to their sea time – the Flexible Work Option (FWO). The assumptions, profiles, demographics and driving reasons for the original FWP proposal remain unchanged and it remains a valid and worthy option to explore. This FWO provides an opportunity for the SO to have short term breaks during their time as the Head of the Supply Department. This will be accomplished through the use of Post Charge Supply Officers to facilitate a ‘caretaker’ role during periods of long absence of the Supply Officer. The intent of the proposal is to provide a number of significant down times during the posting tenure to provide valuable respite, rest and family flexibility during a sea posting. The use of a Post Charge Supply Officer would provide confidence to the incumbent SO and an opportunity to actually step out of the position for a short period, rather than remaining as the point of contact whilst on leave. The use of a Post Charge Supply Officer would reduce any handover time as the officer is providing a caretaker role, with continuing compliance, management and supervision along with essential guidance and training to the DSO. It also provides the Supply department with a continuing Head of Department to ensure divisional matters are monitored and department senior sailors still have a conduit of supply expertise within the department. Key guiding factors Minimum Time. The minimum timeframe for this relief would be four weeks, as any period less than this would be deemed to be normal leave arrangements to be coordinated between the CO and DSO. The intent of the flexible work option is for substantive breaks in posting. Maximum Time. The maximum timeframe for this option is 12 weeks. The proposal requires that the Post Charge Supply Officer be a volunteer and be releasable from their current employment to meet the needs of the operational unit. It is unlikely that any officer would be released for any period greater than 12 weeks to ‘fill-in’ for another officer. Work Leave Balance. Whilst the relief time is designed primarily for a leave and respite break during their posting tenure, situations may arise where the current SO may wish to provide work from a shore environment for a