ASMOF Office accommodation campaign


The response from members to our office accommodation campaign has been amazing. And the overwhelming support we have received shows that members feel deeply and widely about this issue.

So, we thought it would be timely to remind you what your rights are.

But first why don’t we support open plan offices for staff specialists?

Simple. They don’t work, the imposition of open plan work spaces breach long established custom and practice and arguably breach the Award.

All employees need to have work spaces appropriate and appropriately equipped to enable them to carry out their duties effectively.

The nature of a Staff Specialists’ position requires them in additional to their clinical duties to teach, to research and, as a senior clinician, be involved in the management of their department.

In recognition of this, the Staff Specialists (State) Award requires the employer to provide “access to such office, secretarial and administrative support as may be reasonably necessary to undertake the requirements of the position.”

That’s right the imposition of open plan offices is likely a breach of the industrial Award.

It is also in breach of the ASMOF Recommended Minimum Office Accommodation Standards which has been endorsed by the governing body of the Union.

The ASMOF Standard provides for the following:

  • All 0.6 to 1.0 FTE positions are to have their own office.
  • Positions which are 0.1 to 0.5 FTE can be required to share an office. There may be situations that this may not be appropriate and should be dealt with on a case by case basis. It would generally not be expected that more than two staff would be allocated to any one office.
  • Those positions that are subject to genuine job-sharing arrangements can also share an office.
  • Office space to be nine square metres for Staff Specialists and Clinical Academics.
  • Positions that have managerial responsibilities attached (identified for example by the provision of a managerial allowance) or have roles that require similar consideration (such as for example Directors of Training) should have office space of at least 12 square metres.
  • The office is to be adjacent to service areas if physically possible.
  • Interview/meeting rooms should be nearby and reasonably accessible.
  • The office must be secure and lockable, along with being reasonably soundproof. It should be cleaned regularly and maintained to reasonable standards. The office layout must be to acceptable ergonomic standards.
  • The office must contain as a minimum a desk, chair, phone, network computer, lockable filing cabinets, and bookshelves. Ready access to a printer and photocopier would be expected. Shared offices should have sufficient allocation of office equipment/furniture for each staff member.

What to do if you are asked to change office accommodation?

You need to be fully cognisant of the requirements for office accommodation for staff specialists. In addition to the above Standard you should be aware of Clause 24 of the Staff Specialists (State) Award, which relevantly reads “Staff Specialists will have access to such office, secretarial and administrative support as may be reasonably necessary to undertake the requirements of the position.”

There may also be WHS implications under the NSW Work Health and Safety Legislation.

Our advice?

  • If your employer tells you that your current office work arrangements will change and there may be a requirement for you to work in an open plan office, call ASMOF immediately on 9212 6900 .
  • You should never just agree to work in an open plan office space.