DHS is cutting about 80 jobs by the end of the year.

Staff found out on Monday that their contracts would not be ongoing.

The cuts come from part of the debt management branch of the department, where it had previously been speculated that more hiring would occur due to the heavy workload.

A Department of Human Services spokesperson said these kinds of changes are normal.

“It is not unusual for the department’s staffing levels to fluctuate depending on budgets, business and government requirements, and demand,” the spokesman said.

“The reality is the department’s overall workforce will increase this financial year thanks to the Government’s significant investment in the department’s service delivery capability.”

The CPSU is concerned that the work will go to labour hire staff.

“These experienced staff are expected to be replaced by labour hire staff, who won’t have the same experience and corporate knowledge to do the work to the required standard,” Community and Public Sector Union deputy secretary Melissa Donnelly said.

“Labour hire workers are paid less, with fewer rights and conditions and no job security. The increase in labour hire staff in this area has already been adding to the workload due to all the re-works because these staff don’t have the same detailed knowledge that DHS workers possess.”

The union said the situation is “beyond farce”.

“It's not only devastating for these staff, but also for the many Australians relying on Commonwealth agencies who are suffering because the Government's privatisation agenda is dragging down services to the community,” Ms Donnelly said.