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, after consulting senators. Staff are engaged under section 22 of that Act.

Additional support was provided to the department through secondment arrangements with other Commonwealth and state and territory government agencies, such as the Office of Parliamentary Counsel, as well as by graduates participating in the Parliament of Australia Graduate Program.

Figure 19 shows that the average full-time equivalent staffing level for 2021–22 was 171, an increase from 168 in 2020–21. This reflects the department’s increased support of Senate and Joint Parliamentary Committees over the period.

No employees identified as First Australians, a decrease of two from the previous reporting period.

Further staffing statistics are provided in Appendix 2.

Figure 19 – Full-time equivalent staff numbers, 2018–19 to 2021–22

Figure 19 – Full-time equivalent staff numbers, 2018–19 to 2021–22

The department’s learning and development framework supports staff to develop and maintain relevant skills and knowledge. Participation in learning activities is actively promoted and encouraged.

In 2021–22, a total of 28 learning activities were offered, all of which focused on skills for the workplace, leadership, health and well-being and role-specific learning (e.g. subject matter conferences).

Eight learning activities were internal training sessions, with a focus on parliamentary skills and knowledge. Continued learning and development in parliamentary procedure and practice remains a priority for the department, to support our core work providing accurate and timely procedural advice.

In addition to the above learning and development opportunities, the department coordinated an additional 15 sessions with a focus on mental health, physical health and safety, and social well-being and inclusion. These sessions coincided with the election period to encourage staff to reset and focus on achieving personal wellness goals before the commencement of the new Parliament.

Financial assistance or paid leave (or both) is also available under the department’s Studybank scheme, to assist ongoing staff to undertake tertiary studies relevant to the department’s objectives. In 2021–22, 12 employees accessed Studybank.

The department participated in the 2022 Australian Public Service Employee Census, administered by the Australian Public Service Commission, in May and June 2022. The department’s results will be posted publicly on the Australian Parliament House website in line with the release of the APS-wide results.

Employment arrangements

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

The department’s five Senior Executive Service (SES) employees are covered by determinations made under subsection 24(1) of the Parliamentary Service Act.

The department’s 184 non-SES employees (including casual or sessional employees and those on long-term leave) are covered by the Department of the Senate Enterprise Agreement 2017–2020.

On 15 May 2020, the Clerk made the Department of the Senate Non-SES Employees Remuneration Determination 2020, to supplement the Department of the Senate Enterprise Agreement 2017–2020 with salary increases commencing May 2021. This followed a 92 per cent ‘yes’ vote by eligible employees for this determination in lieu of bargaining for a new enterprise agreement.

Three employees had an Individual Flexibility Arrangement with the Clerk in accordance with clause 7 of the Enterprise Agreement.

Under these various workplace arrangements, staff have access to a range of entitlements, including leave, study assistance, a workplace support allowance, salary packaging, guaranteed minimum superannuation payments and other allowances. Employees can also use other services offered at Parliament House, including the sporting facilities and the Parliamentary Library. None of the department’s workplace arrangements provide for performance pay.

All employees work at Parliament House, Canberra.

In response to the continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Clerk made the Department of the Senate Non-SES Employees COVID-19 Determination 2022 and the Department of the Senate SES Employees COVID-19 Determination 2022. These determinations continue greater flexibility for staff accessing existing leave entitlements should they need additional leave as a result of the pandemic, and provide for paid discretionary leave for casual or sessional employees. These determinations reflect similar arrangements made in relation to the Australian Public Service.

The department provides staff a total of four hours of paid discretionary leave to travel to and receive COVID-19 vaccinations. 72 staff accessed this leave in 2021–22.

Work health and safety

The department promotes and protects the physical and mental health and well-being of its workers and others in the workplace by providing a safe, supportive and inclusive environment and meeting its duties and obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. The department’s Health and Safety Committee met two times during 2021–22.

The department notifies work health and safety incidents to Comcare as required by the Work Health and Safety Act. There was one incident, a workplace transmission of COVID-19, notified to Comcare in 2021–22. The department was not subject to any investigation or compliance or enforcement measure under that Act.

In response to ongoing COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and precautions, the department updated its work health and safety, well-being and working from home policies and advices to allow greater flexibility and assurance for staff to safely work from home. Specific COVID-Safe advice and support is also provided to staff who undertake official travel. The department, through the Usher of the Black Rod, worked closely with Health Officials to ensure the department continues to operate on a COVID-Safe footing, especially during estimates and sitting periods. Detailed COVID-Safe plans have been made for major undertakings and are updated as needed when conditions change.