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 did not change significantly in 2010–11. 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 in 2010 and one in 2011)
  • graduates participating in the Parliament of Australia Graduate Program (two each in 2010 and 2011).

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 2010, two participants in the program were primarily attached to various committee secretariats, providing administrative and research support. In 2011, one participant was selected to participate in the program. All participants 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 2010 and 2011, 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 21 shows that the full-time equivalent ( FTE) staffing level for 2010–11 was 157, two less than for 2009–10. The decrease was largely the result of positions being left vacant while recruitment processes were undertaken. More staffing statistics, including a breakdown of the FTE staffing level by office, are provided in appendix 2.

Figure 21 Full-time equivalent staff numbers, 2006–07 to 2010–11

Figure 21

Workforce planning

Workforce planning for the whole department is undertaken annually. The department’s 2010 and 2011 workforce reports displayed similar gender and age profile trends to those reported for the Australian Public Service in the State of the Service Report 2009–10.

Several initiatives were proposed during 2010–11 as a result of workforce planning in relation to:

  • improved recruitment practices
  • attraction and retention strategies
  • 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. An average of 21 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 2010–11 was more than in 2009–10. Table 8 shows the reasons for separations.

Table 8 Reasons for separations from the department, 2008–09 to 2010–11
Reason 2008–09 2009–10 2010–11
Resignation 14 17 17
Retirement (age) 4 5 3
Retirement (other) or death 3 0 2
Return to home agency 1 2 6
End of non-ongoing employment 15 9 13
Transfer or promotion to another agency 8 8 11
Total 45 41 52

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.

At 30 June 2011, 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 3 per cent pay increase in May 2011 in recognition of productivity improvements and individual performance outcomes. The salary ranges for SES staff and the Clerk are set out in appendix 2.

Table 9 shows the number of senior executives who received or were due to receive total remuneration of $130,000 or more, for 2008–09 to 2010–11.

Table 9 Number of senior executives who received or were due to receive total remuneration of $130,000 or more, 2008–09 to 2010–11
Remuneration range ($)a 2008–09 2009–10 2010–11
Total 6 6 6
160,000–189,999 2 1
190,000–219,999 1 3 2
220,000–249,999 1 2 2
250,000–279,999 1
310,000–339,999 1
370,000–399,999 1
430,000–459,999 1

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

Employment arrangements

Employee collective agreement and enterprise agreement

The department’s collective agreement was replaced on 15 July 2010 with an enterprise agreement which has a nominal expiry date of 30 June 2012. In May 2011, the agreement delivered a 3 per cent salary increase to staff. At 30 June 2011, 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, 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 remained covered by individual agreement-based transitional instruments from 1 July 2010. The department arranged for these staff to be covered by the enterprise agreement once it commenced operation on 15 July 2010 and their individual instruments had been terminated.

Performance pay

The department’s employment arrangements do not provide for 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 provides a target of three days of work-related learning activities each year.

During 2010–11, 10 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 2010–11, the department delivered staff training on:

  • recruitment and selection
  • performance management
  • presentation skills
  • project management
  • emotional intelligence
  • people management.

The department’s professional development program, the Parliamentary Executive Professional Upgrade Program (PEP UP), continued in both 2010 and 2011. In 2011, PEP UP was restructured and became part of the new learning and development framework. Under the framework, the PEP UP program now 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 was revised and implemented during 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 the Parliamentary Service Values and the Parliamentary Service Code of Conduct. Other corporate induction seminars focussed on providing staff with information about their workplace and fellow staff that can help them operate more efficiently.

Occupational health and safety

The department undertook a range of preventative measures in 2010–11 aimed at minimising the risk of workplace injuries.

Initiatives and measures

Initiatives and measures undertaken in 2010–11 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
  • an online material safety data sheet application for hazardous substances
  • risk assessments for stationery items, supplies used in committee rooms, and the printing unit
  • a health promotion program.

The department’s Health and Safety Committee met four times during 2010–11. 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 for departmental staff.

Claims, incidents and investigations

Comcare accepted one claim for compensation in respect of the department during 2010–11.

In 2010–11, within the department there were:

  • no accidents and one incident 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.