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 staff are located at Parliament House in Canberra. The department's staffing levels varied considerably during the period. 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 (one in 2011 and one in 2012)
  • graduates participating in the Parliament of Australia Graduate Program (two each in 2011 and 2012).

The Working in the Senate Development Program offers Senate work experience to officers from the Australian Public Service. During the period, two participants in the program were primarily attached to various committee secretariats, providing administrative and research support.

The Parliament of Australia Graduate Program also is run on a calendar year basis. In both 2011 and 2012, two graduates in Australian Public Service graduate programs participated in the program. Participation involves the graduates being placed with the department for a three-month placement.

Figure 20 shows that the full-time equivalent (FTE) staffing level for 2011–12 was 158, one more than for 2010–11. More staffing statistics, including a breakdown of the FTE staffing level by office, are provided in appendix 2.

Figure 20 Full-time equivalent staff numbers, 2007–08 to 2011–12

Figure 20   Full-time equivalent staff numbers, 2007–08 to 2011–12

Workforce planning

Workforce planning for the whole department is undertaken annually. The department's 2011 and 2012 workforce reports displayed similar gender and age profile trends to those reported for the Australian Public Service in the State of the Service Report 2010–11.

Several initiatives were proposed during 2011–12 as a result of workforce planning in relation to:

  • improved mobility of staff
  • improved service provision
  • professional development needs.

These were considered by the program managers and have been implemented or are being implemented.

Staff turnover

The department continued to attract suitable applicants for its advertised employment vacancies, including for specialist roles. TheGazette and the department's website continue to be the main media by which applicants become aware of vacancies.

The number of staff separations in 2011–12 was more than in 2010–11. Table 8 shows the reasons for separations.

Table 8 Reasons for separations from the department, 2009–10 to 2011–12

Reason 2009–10 2010–11 2011–12
Resignation 17 17 21
Retirement (age) 5 3 5
Retirement (other) or death 0 2 2
Return to home agency 2 6 2
End of non-ongoing employment 9 13 12
Transfer or promotion to another agency 8 11 13
Total 41 52 55

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.

All of the department's Senior Executive Service (SES) staff were covered by a collective 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 enterprise agreement, SES staff received a three per cent pay increase in May 2012 in recognition of productivity improvements and individual performance outcomes. The salary ranges for SES staff and the Clerk are set out in appendix 2.

Employment arrangements

Enterprise agreement

The department's enterprise agreement has a nominal expiry date of 30 June 2012. In May 2012, the agreement delivered a three per cent salary increase to staff. At 30 June 2012, all non-SES staff were covered by the enterprise agreement.

The enterprise agreement 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.

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, 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.

Negotiations for a new enterprise agreement were well advanced at 30 June 2012.

Performance pay

The department's employment arrangements do not provide for performance pay.

Learning and development

In consultation with supervisors, staff set professional development goals for a 12-month performance cycle. The department provides a target of three days of work-related learning activities each year.

During 2011–12, twelve 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 conducts in-house learning and development activities during the year. In 2011–12, the department delivered staff training on:

  • performance management
  • delegations and authorisations
  • time management
  • client service
  • work/life balance.

The department's professional development program, the Parliamentary Executive Professional Upgrade Program (PEP UP), continued in both 2011 and 2012. In 2011, PEP UP was restructured and became part of the new learning and development framework. Under the framework, the PEP UP program runs over two years. 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 corporate induction seminars for new staff continued during 2011–12.

Work health and safety

On 1 January 2012, the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1991 was replaced by the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

The department's Health and Safety Management Arrangements remained in place following the introduction of the Work Health and Safety Act. These arrangements will be updated in the coming reporting period in consultation with staff. The current arrangements cover:

  • agreed responsibilities
  • workplace arrangements and consultation requirements including the definition of designated workgroups
  • reporting mechanisms
  • dispute resolution.

The department undertook a range of preventative measures in 2011–12 aimed at minimising the risk of workplace injuries and accidents.

Initiatives and measures

Initiatives and measures undertaken in 2011–12 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 work health and safety (WH&S) inspection program for all work areas
  • regular publication of WH&S information in the Staff Bulletin, which is distributed to all staff
  • prompt action to address situations if staff reported early signs of injury
  • an online material safety data sheet application for hazardous substances
  • a health promotion program.

The department's Health and Safety Committee met four times during 2011–12. The committee is made up of elected health and safety representatives for each designated workgroup. Each representative is elected for a three-year term in accordance with theWork Health and Safety (Transitional and Consequential Provisions) Act 2011. The committee was consulted in relation to all incident and hazard reports received by the department.

Two new health and safety representatives were elected during the period and completed the mandatory training required by the role.

Claims, incidents and investigations

Comcare accepted one claim for compensation in respect of the department during 2011–12.

In 2011–12, within the department there were:

  • no accidents or incidents that required the giving of notice under section 68 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1991 or section 38 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011
  • no investigations or notices under sections 29, 46 or 47 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1991 or under sections 90, 191 and 195 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.