Management of human resources


The Clerk of the Senate is appointed by the President of the Senate under subsection 58(1) of the Parliamentary Service Act 1999. Staff of the department are engaged under section 22 of that Act.

The department’s employees are located at Parliament House in Canberra.

The department’s staffing structure did not change significantly in 2009–10. As in previous years, the number of non-ongoing staff fluctuated to meet the workload generated by the sittings of the Senate.

Staffing levels were supplemented by:

  • Australian Public Service officers participating in the department’s Working in the Senate Development Program (two each in 2009 and 2010)
  • an apprentice participating in the 2009 Australian Public Service Information and Communications Technology Apprenticeship Program
  • graduates participating in the Parliament of Australia Graduate Program (two each in 2009 and 2010).

The Working in the Senate Development Program offers Senate work experience to officers from the public service. This program is run on a calendar year basis. In both 2009 and 2010, two participants in the program were primarily attached to various committee secretariats, providing administrative and research support. They also had short structured placements with the Table and Procedure offices.

The Parliament of Australia Graduate Program also is run on a calendar year basis. In both 2009 and 2010, two graduates in Australian Public Service graduate programs participated in the program. Participation involves the graduates being placed with the department for one of their three-month rotations. During this time, the graduates mainly work with a committee secretariat. Graduates also familiarise themselves with the work carried out by the Table and Procedure offices.

Figure 23 shows that the full-time equivalent (FTE) staffing level for 2009–10 was 159, four less than for 2008–09. The decrease was largely the result of reduced staffing levels in the Committee Office, in part due to more effective utilisation of staff across that office. More staffing statistics, including a breakdown of the FTE staffing level by office, are provided in appendix 2.

Figure 23 Full-time equivalent staff numbers, 2005–06 to 2009–10

Figure 23

Text description of figure 23

Workforce planning

Workforce planning for the whole department is undertaken annually. The department’s 2009–10 workforce report reinforced trends reported in recent years, including a number of staff nearing retirement age and a workforce with an average age that matched that of the public service, as reported in the State of the Service Report 2008–09.

Several initiatives were proposed as a result of this year’s workforce planning in relation to:

  • long-term staff leave arrangements
  • attraction and retention strategies
  • professional development needs.

These were considered by the program managers and are being implemented or are being further considered as part of the department’s structural review.

Staff turnover

The department continued to attract a significant number of suitable applicants for its advertised employment vacancies, including for specialist roles. An average of 32 applications were received for each advertised employment vacancy. The Gazette and the department’s internet page continue to be the main media by which applicants become aware of vacancies.

The number of staff separations in 2009–10 was less than in 2008–09. Table 7 shows the reasons for separations.

Table 7 Reasons for separations from the department, 2007–08 to 2009–10
Reason 2007–08 2008–09 2009–10
Resignation 12 14 17
Retirement (age) 6 4 5
Retirement (other) or death 1 3 0
Return to home agency 4 1 2
End of non-ongoing employment 13 15 9
Transfer or promotion to another agency 4 8 8
Total 40 45 41

Senior executive remuneration

The names of the department’s senior executives appear in figure 1 in the ‘Departmental overview’ chapter and in reports on performance for each office.

The remuneration of the Clerk of the Senate, who is the holder of a statutory office, is set by the President of the Senate after consultation with the Remuneration Tribunal.

In 2009–10, four of the department’s Senior Executive Service (SES) staff were covered by individual agreement-based transitional instruments (formerly known as Australian workplace agreements). One SES staff member was covered by a determination made under subsection 24(1) of the Parliamentary Service Act 1999. 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 2010 in recognition of individual and departmental performance outcomes. The salary ranges for SES staff are set out in appendix 2.

Table 8 shows the number of senior executives (including the Clerk) who received or were due to receive total remuneration of $130,000 or more, for 2007–08 to 2009–10.

Table 8 Number of senior executives who received or were due to receive total remuneration of $130,000 or more, 2007–08 to 2009–10
Remuneration range ($)a 2007–08 2008–09 2009–10
Total 6 6 6
less than 145,000 1
160,000–174,999 1
175,000–189,999 2 1
190,000–204,999 1 1
205,000–219,999 1 2
220,000–234,999 1 1
235,000–249,999 1 1
250,000–264,999 1
325,000–339,999 1
385,000–399,999 1
430,000–444,999 1

a Excludes remuneration bands that did not apply to any senior executives during the periods reported.

The aggregate amount of total remuneration for the senior executives shown in table 8 is $1,424,737 ($1,475,245 in 2008–09).

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Employment arrangements

During 2009–10, most non-SES staff were covered by an employee collective agreement. A small number of staff were covered by Australian workplace agreements.

Employee collective agreement and enterprise agreement

The department’s employee collective agreement commenced in July 2006 with a nominal expiry date of 30 June 2010. In May 2010, the agreement delivered a 4 per cent salary increase to staff: 2 per cent based on ‘effective or better’ individual performance during the May 2009 to April 2010 assessment period, and 2 per cent based on productivity improvements.

In January 2010, the department commenced negotiations with bargaining representatives for a new enterprise agreement for non-SES staff. Eight negotiation meetings were held between January and May. In negotiating this agreement, the department worked within the requirements of the Australian Government Employment Bargaining Framework applicable to the parliamentary service.

The enterprise agreement was agreed to by staff in June 2010 and was lodged with Fair Work Australia on 30 June 2010 for approval. Once approved, it will come into effect in July 2010, with a nominal expiry date of 30 June 2012.

The enterprise agreement is similar in form to the current collective agreement. It highlights the principles and objectives by which the department, and staff, will work towards achieving greater efficiencies and savings, and articulates the roles of parliamentary executive level staff. Key enhancements in the enterprise agreement include:

  • an increased range of Studybank reimbursements
  • new consultation and flexibility provisions required by the Fair Work Act 2009
  • increased maternity and adoption leave entitlements.

The enterprise agreement provides for 3 per cent pay increases in May 2011 and May 2012.

The salary ranges applicable to non-SES staff classification levels are set out in appendix 2.

In addition to salary, staff are entitled to a range of benefits including leave entitlements, study assistance, staff assistance program access, guaranteed minimum superannuation payments at the same level as the department’s nominated default fund and a range of allowances that support staff members in effectively carrying out their duties and being appropriately remunerated.

Other arrangements

A small number of non-SES staff have been covered by individual agreement-based transitional instruments. At 30 June 2010, the department was in the process of terminating these instruments so that the new enterprise agreement will cover all non-SES employees.

By agreement between the department and affected SES staff, it is intended that the existing subsection 24(1) determination and SES individual agreement-based transitional instruments will be terminated during 2010–11 and a new collective determination will be made under subsection 24(1) of the Parliamentary Service Act to cover all SES staff (except the Clerk).

Performance pay

The department’s employment arrangements do not provide for individual or team-based performance pay.

Learning and development

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

During 2009–10, 12 employees received financial assistance, paid leave, or both, under the department’s Studybank scheme, to help them undertake tertiary studies relevant to the department’s objectives.

To supplement external training, the department may conduct in-house learning and development activities during the year. In 2009–10, the department delivered:

  • staff training on revised procedures for dealing with suspected breaches of the Parliamentary Service Code of Conduct and revised procedures for dealing with whistleblowers’ reports, as part of the implementation of those procedures
  • corporate training to support the department in meeting its workplace safety obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1991.

The department’s professional development program, the Parliamentary Executive Professional Upgrade Program (PEP UP), is a calendar year program and ran in both 2009 and 2010. The program was open to all departmental staff in both years. It provides staff with technical information and develops their knowledge about the Senate, its operation and the work carried out by the department in support of senators. Feedback on PEP UP sessions indicates that the program is effective and supports the development needs of staff.

The department’s program of induction seminars for new staff was revised during 2009–10. A new program will be launched in early 2010–11. The Director Human Resource Management met with new staff on their first day with the department and again one month later, to brief them on their obligations as parliamentary service employees and ensure their adherence to the Parliamentary Service Code of Conduct and the Parliamentary Service Values.

Occupational health and safety

The department undertook a range of preventative measures in 2009–10 aimed at minimising the risk of workplace injuries, which contributed to the satisfactory outcome of no serious incidents or compensable injuries during the year.

Initiatives and measures

Initiatives and measures undertaken in 2009–10 to create a safe and healthy working environment for the department’s staff included:

  • an ergonomic assessment of workstations for all new staff and for other staff as required
  • an annual occupational health and safety (OH&S) inspection program for all work areas
  • regular publication of OH&S information in the Staff Bulletin, which is distributed to all staff
  • prompt action to address situations if staff reported early signs of injury
  • the development of guidance for staff travelling to, and working in, regional, remote and overseas locations
  • manual handling training for relevant employees
  • an online material safety data sheet application for hazardous substances
  • risk assessments for all stationery items, supplies used in committee rooms, and the printing unit
  • revision of the rehabilitation policy.

In 2010, the Health and Safety Management Arrangements were reviewed. Staff were consulted about the updated arrangements, which take into account the Occupational Health and Safety Code of Practice 2008 and reflect other minor changes in the department’s operations.

Under the terms of the department’s employee collective agreement, influenza vaccinations were made available to staff in May 2010.

The department’s Health and Safety Committee met five times during 2009–10. The committee is made up of elected health and safety representatives for each designated workgroup. Each representative is elected for a two-year term in accordance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1991. The committee was consulted in relation to all incident and hazard reports received by the department. The committee also considered information about proposed new workstations and monitored changed procedures for the restocking of first aid kits.

Claims, incidents and investigations

Comcare did not accept any claims for compensation in respect of the department during 2009–10.

In 2009–10, within the department there were:

  • no accidents or dangerous occurrences that required the giving of notice under section 68 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1991
  • no investigations or notices under sections 29, 46 or 47 of that Act.

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