Part 5Parliamentary Library

Workforce issues

At 30 June 2018, the Library’s workforce comprised:

  • Office of the Parliamentary Librarian—11 employees (9.6 FTE)
  • Library Collections and Databases Branch—56 employees (54.3 FTE)
  • Research Branch—89 employees (80.7 FTE)

During 2017–18, the Library workforce:

  • increased slightly from 155 to 156 employees, and in FTE from 143.6 (at 30 June 2017) to 144.6 (at 30 June 2018), 35 (22 per cent) of whom were non-ongoing, and
  • had a median age of 45 years (up slightly from 44 years in 2017).

Age profile

At 30 June 2018, 32 per cent of the Library’s ongoing employees were aged 55 years and over; a further 26 per cent will move into that age cohort within the next 10 years. The age profile of the Library’s ongoing employees remains considerably older than that of the Australian Public Service (APS); the proportion of ongoing employees aged 60 years and over (almost 16 per cent) is more than twice that of the APS (seven per cent).30

The Library’s relatively older age profile has been evident for some years, but is less pronounced than it was a decade ago; the proportion of employees aged 45 years and over fell from 69 per cent in 200831 to 57 per cent in 2017 before rising slightly to 58 per cent in 2018.


Given the nature of much of the work undertaken in the Library, the classification profile is concentrated at PEL 1, with 42 per cent of ongoing employees being at the level—the majority of whom are in Research Branch. In contrast, only 19 per cent of ongoing APS employees are at the equivalent EL 1.32

However, over time there has been an increase in the proportion of Library employees at PSL 4–5 and PSL 6. This shift reflects the Library’s growing focus on developing potential career paths for less experienced employees, ensuring continuity of skills and opportunities to expand corporate knowledge. In Research Branch, an additional benefit is that it enables senior researchers to concentrate on more complex work.

The proportion of employees at middle management (PEL 2) is slightly below the APS average—seven per cent of ongoing employees compared with 10 per cent for the APS.

Another measure of classification profile is span of control; at June 2018, the Library had 13.9 ongoing employees at lower classifications for each PEL 2, compared with 9.2 for the APS.33

Employment status

As noted earlier, the Library’s non-ongoing workforce at June 2018 accounted for 22 per cent of all employees, up slightly from the previous year (21 per cent).

Non-ongoing employees are generally engaged to replace staff on long leave, to work on specific projects, to meet demands in peak periods, and while recruitment processes are under way. Using fixed-term positions (one or two years) also allows flexibility to redirect resources according to business needs as new areas of interest to the Parliament emerge or as the level of the Library’s funding varies year to year.

The proportion of non-ongoing employees in the Library is substantially higher than in the APS (nine per cent),34 reflecting the sessional nature of many of our work patterns.

This year, the Library continued to maintain its temporary employment register to support this demand.


During 2017–18, there were 30 new external employees recruited—three were ongoing and the remainder were engaged on a fixed-term or sessional basis.

  • Research Branch recruited 19 new employees (three ongoing and 16 non-ongoing).
  • Library Collections and Databases Branch recruited 11 new employees (all non-ongoing).
  • The Office of the Parliamentary Librarian recruited one new employee (non-ongoing).


Twenty-six staff left the Library during 2017–18: 11 were ongoing employees, one was a secondee and the remainder were non-ongoing on fixed-term or sessional contracts.

For all staff, the separation rate was 17 per cent, a reduction from 20 per cent the previous year. For ongoing staff, the separation rate of nine per cent was somewhat higher than that for the APS (seven per cent in 2017).35

Table 22: Separation by organisation unit
Separation method Branch Ongoing Non-ongoing Total
Age retirement Research 2 1 3
End of contract or end of
temporary transfer from APS
Research 9 9
Library Collections and Databases 2 2
Office of the Parliamentary Librarian 1 1
Promotion or transfer to APS
or Parliamentary Service
Research 3 1 4
Office of the Parliamentary Librarian 1 1
Resignation Research 2 2
Library Collections and Databases 1 1 2
Voluntary retrenchment Library Collections and Databases 2 2


30 Australian Public Service Commission (APSC), APS Statistical Bulletin December 2017, Table 25.

31 Department of Parliamentary Services, Annual Report and Financial Statements 2007–08, p. 45.

32 APSC, op.cit., Table 21.

33 APSC, op.cit., Table 21.

34 Ibid., Table 1.

35 Ibid., Tables 1 and 48