Management of human resources

Workforce planning

The department's staffing structure did not change in 2008–09. As in previous years, the number of non-ongoing staff fluctuated throughout the year to meet the additional workload generated by the sittings of the Senate.

Staffing levels were supplemented by ongoing Australian Public Service officers (three in 2008 and two in 2009) who participated in the department's Working in the Senate development program, and by an apprentice who participated in the 2008 Australian Public Service Information and Communications Technology Apprenticeship Programme.

Figure 22 shows that the full-time equivalent (FTE) staffing level for 2008–09 was 163, 11 more than for 2007–08. The increase was largely due to the higher level of select committee activity anticipated at the commencement of the new parliament. More staffing statistics, including a breakdown of the FTE staffing level by office, are provided in Appendix 2.

Figure 22 Full-time equivalent staff numbers, 2004–05 to 2008–09

Full-time equivalent staff numbers, 2004–05 to 2008–09

The department completed its second workforce planning process in 2008–09. The exercise highlighted areas that the department needs to monitor, such as the ageing workforce, succession planning, and learning and development.

The department joined the Department of the House of Representatives Parliament of Australia Graduate Program, offering two placements of three months duration. The department's two graduates will complete their placements in the second half of 2009.

The number of staff separations in 2008–09 was higher than in the previous two years. The number of staff completing temporary employment contracts continued to account for the highest number of separations. Table 6 shows the trends in separations.

Table 6 Reasons for separations from the department, 2006–07 to 2008–09
Reason 2006–07 2007–08 2008–09
Resignation 9 12 14
Retirement (age) 7 6 4
Retirement (other) or death 1 1 3
Return to home agency 4 1
End of non-ongoing employment 14 13 15
Transfer or promotion to another agency 11 4 8
Total 42 40 45

Occupational health and safety

No compensable injuries occurred during 2008–09. Preventive measures taken to minimise the incidence of workplace injury may have contributed to this outcome. The measures included:

  • an ergonomic assessment of all new employees' workstations
  • an annual occupational health and safety (OH&S) inspection of all work areas
  • regular publication of OH&S information in the department's Information Bulletin, which is distributed to all staff
  • prompt action when staff report early signs of injury
  • an in-house training course on manual handling
  • in-house training courses on hazardous substances and handling suspicious mail.

The department's OH&S Committee met four times during 2008–09. The committee reviewed all OH&S incident reports to ensure that appropriate follow-up action was taken to avoid further incidents.

During 2008, the department, in conjunction with the Department of the House of Representatives and the Department of Parliamentary Services, participated in the Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace Accreditation Program. Parliament House received accreditation in October 2008.

Under the terms of the department's employee collective agreement, flu vaccinations were made available to staff in March 2009. In June 2009, first aid boxes within the department were inspected and restocked to ensure compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Code of Practice 2008.

Employee Collective Agreement 2006–2010

The department's ECA commenced in July 2006 and will operate until it is replaced by a new agreement. The agreement delivered a 4 per cent salary increase to staff in May 2009: 2 per cent based on ‘effective or better' individual performance during the May 2008 to April 2009 assessment period, and 2 per cent based on productivity improvements.

Senior Executive Service remuneration

The majority of the department's Senior Executive Service (SES) staff remain covered by individual Australian Workplace Agreements. One SES staff member is covered by a determination made under subsection 24(1) of the Parliamentary Service Act. In accordance with their terms and conditions, and consistent with the provisions of the department's employee collective agreement, SES staff received a 4 per cent pay increase in May 2009 in recognition of individual and departmental performance outcomes. The salary ranges for SES staff are shown in Appendix 2.

Performance pay

The department's ECA and workplace agreements do not provide for individual or team-based performance pay.

Learning and development

The department's employees are encouraged and expected to take personal responsibility for developing and enhancing their skills and knowledge and improving their individual performance. In consultation with supervisors, employees set professional development goals for a 12-month performance cycle. In general, the department recommends that employees undertake at least three days of work-related off-the-job learning activities each year.

The department conducts a number of in-house learning and development activities during the year to supplement external training. In 2008–09, the department delivered a series of information sessions to managers and supervisors.

Senior departmental officers also delivered a series of seminars to relevant staff to broaden their knowledge of the Senate and the committee system. This year, the series included two sessions presented by the Australian Government Solicitor, which addressed human resource and staffing matters.

The department held several induction seminars for new employees. All new staff members also met with the Director Human Resource Management on their first day and again after one month. The additional support was aimed at briefing staff on their obligations as parliamentary service employees and ensuring that the correct induction procedures were adhered to.

During 2008–09, 18 employees received financial assistance, paid leave, or both, under the department's Studybank scheme, to help them complete tertiary studies relevant to the department's objectives.