By Kirsty Membreno
PANSW Assistant Secretary - Industrial
Your Association has advocated for a ODS for several years and was successful in May 2021 in achieving one. The first round was opened in January 2022 which had an overwhelming take up from police officers across NSW.
What is ODS?
The Optional Disengagement Scheme (ODS) is an initiative designed to help support eligible police officers wishing to pursue an alternate career or life path by transitioning from the NSWPF in a dignified and supportive manner that recognises their contribution to policing in NSW.
It may enable officers to transition into a new career, study, retirement or simply towards building a new life outside of the organisation. To support officers in their alternate career/life path options, the ODS includes a financial payment and career transition support.
The NSWPF has applied for and obtained a special class ruling from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) regarding the financial payment for the ODS. The payment for tax purposes will be termed as an “Early Retirement Scheme” and payments made to employees will be eligible for concessional tax treatment.
To be eligible for ODS, officers must satisfy the following criteria:
- a current serving non-commissioned or commissioned officer (other than a Probationary Constable)
- having completed a minimum of 10 years continuous service (with previous service of officers who have been re-appointed into the NSWPF not being recognised for this purpose)
- under age pension age at the time of terminating employment
Officers will not be eligible for ODS who:
- have submitted an intent to resign or retire from 1 July 2021
- are subject to a process that may result in their retirement or removal
- are, or become, the subject of an active investigation or conduct action under Parts 8A or 9 of the Police Act 1990
- are in receipt of any weekly Workers Compensation benefit payments under Division 2 of Part 3 of the Workers Compensation Act 1987 (NSW)
What does ‘service’ mean for an eligible officer?
b. Officers not currently working in the NSWPF (e.g., on secondment/LWOP) for periods up to 12 months are eligible to participate in the scheme.
c. Officers who have been out of the NSWPF (e.g., on secondment/career break/LWOP) for periods of greater than 12 months must return to NSWPF duty, resume and remain on duty to be eligible to participate in the scheme.
d. Officers who are under age pension age at the time of terminating employment, can apply.
e. The ODS is open to members of all superannuation funds/schemes.
f. Officers will not be eligible if they have submitted an intent to resign or retire from 1 July 2021. Officers may seek to withdraw their resignation/retirement in accordance with the provisions of the Resignation and Retirement Procedures. However, requests to withdraw resignation/retirement for the purpose of accessing the ODS will not be supported.
As Career Transition support is an important part of the scheme, the NSWPF has partnered with Fortem Australia to provide a tailored ODS career transition support service to officers exiting the organisation through the ODS.
Officers are encouraged to seek independent financial, superannuation and career transition advice to enable an informed decision before applying for or accepting an offer of ODS.
ODS Payment Guide
Eligible officers who exit under ODS will receive a lump sum payment calculated using the following formula:
- 4 x weeks’ base pay in lieu of notice
- 8 x weeks’ base pay incentive
- 1 x additional week’s base pay for officers aged over 45
There are payment points of 10, 15 ,20 ,25 and 30 years’ service with the payment defaulting to the lower exit point if service length falls in between those points. For example, an officer with 17 years of service will be offered payment equivalent to 15 years’ service only.
Payment is calculated using the base salary as specified in the Police Award for the officer’s substantive rank only. The loaded salary, specialist allowances and pay-scales (e.g., special duties allowances, detectives pay-scale etc.) will not be used for the purpose of calculating payment.
NOTE: The maximum total payment available to officers (irrespective of substantive rank) is capped at the equivalent amount of up to a Sergeant, Level 9 with 30 years total service. Interested officers should utilise the ODS Financial Estimator which becomes available in Blue Portal when a new round is announced.
ATO Class Ruling
The NSWPF has applied for and obtained a special ruling from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) regarding the financial payment for the ODS. The payment for tax purposes will be termed as an “Early Retirement Scheme” and payments made to employees will be eligible for concessional tax treatment as follows:
The scheme is limited to a number of eligible applicants who can exit each financial year based on funds made available. The ODS will be offered in rounds at the discretion of the Commissioner. The next ODS round will be in the 2022/23 financial year.
Officers who are offered ODS in Round 1
Eligibility and clearances are currently being checked by the NSWPF ODS team and the first group of officers selected (on a first in first serve basis) will receive offers shortly (if not already). Officers will have 14 days to obtain advice on the offer and associated legal documents required to be signed and returned in order to accept an offer.
Officers will be advised via telephone and in writing when their EOI has been assessed as eligible, and an ODS offer will be made. Commanders will be notified that an officer within their Command has been offered ODS.
The ODS offer package will include:
a. an estimate of ODS payment,
b. a Deed of Agreement (Deed) including the exit date for signature by the Officer, and
c. a referral to the Career Transition provider supporting the ODS, by the ODS Team.
On receipt of the ODS offer package the officer will:
• Note that until the Deed is executed by both parties either party may withdraw at any time with no further obligation to proceed or accept an optional disengagement offer.
• Once the officer returns the Deed, the acceptance will be processed.
Unsuccessful Applicants Round 1
Eligible applicants that did not proceed in the current round (i.e., due to funding availability) may seek to participate in future rounds (subject to meeting the eligibility criteria of the future round/s). They will be required to resubmit their EOI. Unsuccessful applicants will not be identified to Commands.
PANSW Advice ODS
The PANSW has advocated for many years for a scheme of this nature where a member has the option based on their individual circumstances to either voluntarily take up ODS or continue in the NSWPF. The Association strongly encourages officers to obtain financial and legal advice regarding the ODS documentation including the deed. PANSW members have access to the Association’s Financial Legal Assistance Scheme to enable them to seek independent legal advice on the Deed of Release and their individual personal circumstances within the 14 day period.
The PANSW does not refer members to specific financial advice services. We encourage each officer to seek independent financial advice which may include your superannuation fund, banking institution, accountant or financial advisor.
Officers should contact the PANSW office on 9265 6777 or via email for individual advice.