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The ABS depends on the combined efforts of capable and motivated employees to achieve its objectives. The ABS needs: employees who understand Australia’s evolving information needs, and can assist the ABS to satisfy those needs; employees who understand the changes to the environment in which the ABS operates, and can help the ABS to adapt to those changes; and employees with both professional competence and a commitment to both Australian Public Service (APS) and ABS values.
Human resource management is a critical function within the ABS, as it is key to ensuring the attraction and retention of a workforce that is skilled to deliver the work program.
As at 30 June 2008, there were 3,024 staff employed at the ABS under the Public Service Act 1999 1,999–1,449 males and 1,575 females. This includes operative, paid inoperative and unpaid inoperative staff. The ABS had 2,873 operative and paid inoperative staff, as at 30 June 2008. There were also 623 staff employed under the Regulation 3 of the Statistics Regulations, and appointed as authorised officers for the purpose of the Census and Statistics Act under Section 16 of the Census and Statistics Act 1905, to assist with data collection—mostly household survey interviewers.
Graph 18.1 presents the profile of ABS staff by employment classification and sex. Table 18.1 presents the location and type of employment for operative and paid inoperative ABS staff. Staff employed under the Australian Bureau of Statistics Act 1975 (interviewers), and 151 unpaid inoperative staff are excluded from the data below.
Graph 18.1: Employment Classification by sex, 30 June 2008(a)
(a) Operative and paid inoperative staff.
Table 18.1: Number of ABS staff by location and status, at 30 June 2008(a)
There are now 15 women in the Senior Executive Service (SES), with women continuing to constitute over one-third of the SES.
Table 18.2: Number of ABS Senior Executive Staff (SES) by level, sex and year (a)
AUSTRALIAN PUBLIC SERVICE VALUES IN THE ABS
The Australian Public Service (APS) Values are actively promoted and strongly adhered to throughout the ABS. At the highest level, the ABS Mission Statement reflects the apolitical nature of the APS, as well as its commitment to the provision of comprehensive, accurate and timely advice.
The ABS also has long established agency values that are fundamental to the ABS performing its role as an independent provider of statistical information. The ABS Values directly relate to, and are congruent with, APS Values. These values are strongly upheld by employees and include:
The importance of the APS Values is reflected and integrated into the day-to-day management and operations of the ABS. For example, the obligations of employees to uphold the APS and ABS Values and abide by the APS Code of Conduct are:
All employees are expected to include key deliverables in their performance agreements, which articulate the expectation that they will adhere to and promote the APS Values and Code of Conduct, and consistently behave in an ethical and professional way.
Effective and targeted recruitment continues to be a priority area for the ABS. In 2007–08, the ABS responded to challenges from a tightening labour market and through improved branding and marketing activities, increased the agency’s visibility as an ‘employer of choice’ within the Australian Public Service.
Recruitment projects in 2007–08 included:
For the future, new processes and systems can be expected to provide an environment that supports more informed decision making, through improved reporting capability and enhanced recruitment operations.
Graduate recruitment forms a significant part of the ABS’ succession planning and entry level recruitment strategy. Recruitment to the ABS Graduate Program has become progressively more challenging, as competition increases.
The ABS welcomed 84 graduates into the 2008 ABS Graduate Program.
The 2009 graduate campaign is well underway, with successful applicants expected to commence with the ABS in January 2009. The ABS has implemented the following initiatives to improve the 2009 graduate recruitment campaign:
The graduate employment brand depicts a vibrant, youthful and contemporary workplace, and communicates the message that the ABS offers a diversity of work and opportunity for people with a range of qualifications. This branding was used in national press and online advertising, and resulted in 1,135 completed applications for the 2009 ABS Graduate Program.
This included a successful pilot 'Meet and Greet' session at Central and South Australia Offices in May 2008, aimed at engaging applicants with the ABS early in the recruitment process. During these sessions, applicants were addressed by former ABS graduates and participated in a group testing session. Interviews were scheduled shortly after this session.
2008 ABS graduates at the welcome event in January 2008.
Continued emphasis was given to the strategic development of the ABS’ workforce. The ABS Workforce Planning Framework and Plan were developed during 2007–08. The ABS focus is to maintain and develop a skilled, motivated and flexible workforce, using development, renewal, deployment and retention strategies. The priorities identified in the workforce plan resulted from extensive consultation with employees. The framework considers the current and future workforce requirements, and takes into account known internal and external factors. This leads to a direction setting vision for people management within the ABS, culminating in three key workforce goals.
CONSULTATION IN THE ABS
The ABS is committed to communication, cooperation and effective consultation with employees and, where they choose, their representatives, about matters that affect their workplace.
The ABS consultative framework includes:
The 2008 National Forum was held in March. The key topics of discussion were:
The ABS has two collective agreements in place, which cover the majority of employees—the ABS Certified Agreement2006–2009 and the ABS Interviewers Certified Agreement 2005–2008. Both agreements were certified prior to the amendment of the Workplace Relations Act 1996 by the Workplace Relations Amendment (WorkChoices) Act 2005.
In early 2008, consultation sessions were conducted to seek feedback on the issues to be considered for the next ABS Interviewers collective agreement. At the time of writing this report, the content of the agreement was being considered. In addition, preparatory work is underway to develop a new collective agreement for ABS office-based employees by early 2009.
As required by Australian Government policy, Australian Workplace Agreements are no longer offered to employees. All current agreements will be progressively replaced over the next financial year.
Details of the number of employees covered by a Certified Agreement, an AWA, or a determination as at 30 June 2008 are as follows:
ABS employees covered by an Australian Workplace Agreement:
Table 18.3: Salary ranges by classification as at 30 June 2008(a)
(a) The APS1 to EL2 salary ranges took effect from 26 June 2008. SES Band 1 to SES Band 3 salary ranges took effect from 1 January 2008.
PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT IN THE ABS
The ABS understands that without access to the ideas and knowledge of its employees, capacity to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its operations, or to pursue innovative ideas, is limited.
Therefore, to allow the ABS to meet the challenges of the future, a more proactive approach to performance management was introduced. To assist employees with the transition, a new style of performance agreement for use across all levels was implemented in May 2008. The new performance agreement was designed to:
The new performance agreement provides an opportunity for all employees to think about the way they do things, as well as challenging them to demonstrate insight and thinking beyond current practice. This has never been more important, as the ABS looks for ways to reduce expenditure, increase business performance and identify productivity savings.
THE ABS SALARY SYSTEM
The ABS Certified Agreement 2006–2009 outlines the salary arrangements for ABS employees.
In 2007–08, salary increases for APS1 to EL2 employees were paid from 28 June 2007, with two components to the salary increases:
i. A general salary increase of 3.5% for all employees rated as Effective or better, where the minimum and maximum amounts of the salary ranges were increased by 3.5%, and
ii. A performance based increase:
During 2007–08, the total amount paid as one-off lump sum bonus payments was $437,541. It was paid to 329 employees.
Table 18.4 shows the performance pay component of the salary increases paid in 2007–08, including pay point movements and bonus payments.
Table 18.4: Performance pay by level
REWARD AND RECOGNITION
The ABS operates a Recognition and Reward Scheme, which recognises exceptional one-off achievements by individuals and work groups. Rewards may be made in the form of certificates, hospitality (such as work group lunches), prepaid vouchers and cash bonuses. Total ABS expenditure for the scheme in 2007–08 was $78,498.45.
LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT
Statistical, personal leadership and management and information technology training activities across the ABS are designed to enhance organisational capabilities, ensuring the ABS can respond to business challenges. Staff training attendance over the past 12 months has decreased from an average of 4.4 training days in 2006–07 to 3.6 days in 2007–08 (see table 18.5). The increase in average training days in 2005–06 primarily reflects the additional training associated with the 2006 Census.
The ABS has continued to invest in its development of managers and leaders for the future, with the delivery of the ABS Leadership Program during February–June 2008. This program was targeted to EL2 – SESB1, and included two participants from Statistics New Zealand.
To supplement the suite of manager/leadership development programs offered on the 2007–08 national training calendar, specific modules were developed and delivered for managers wishing to update and refresh their skills. These included modules such as Introduction to Policy Departments, Leading Teams and Emotional Intelligence for Managers. This approach will be continued into next year, with a series of sessions for line managers envisaged to raise awareness of the breadth of their responsibilities and resources available to them.
Table 18.5: ABS staff training (a)
(b) Comprises full time and part time staff at their full time equivalent.
(c) Figures revised down since first published, as more accurate information has since become available.
(d) Excludes Census Data Processing Centre Training.
The Organisational, People and Learning System (OPALS) is now well established, with about 60% of ABS employees having completed their capability profile. The information collated in this system is now being used by divisions and regions to determine training needs and develop staff utilisation strategies. A review of OPALS was conducted in 2007–08 to assess the impact of limitations in reporting capability within the system. This review involved discussions with focus groups in central and regional offices, as well as a questionnaire available to all employees. The review is expected to be finalised early in 2008–09.
The ABS is committed to providing opportunities for all employees to develop and enhance their skills and qualifications, to meet current and future skill requirements in line with corporate goals and individual career development. As part of this commitment, the Study Support Program offers paid study leave and financial assistance to approved students. Since reintroduction in January 2006, the Study Support Program has received in excess of 480 applications. A review of the Study Support guidelines was completed in December 2007, with changes made to the layout, making information easier to access and understand. An internal review of the program is in progress, with results due to be released to employees in late 2008.
Statistical skills continue to be further developed through the National Statistical Training Institute, established to provide a cohesive, statistical skills development program for ABS employees, as well as programs conducted in partnership with a number of universities, including the Australian National University, the University of Wollongong, the University of Queensland and Adelaide University. In addition, negotiations are underway to further strengthen ties with the universities, to provide greater access to statistical and mathematical courses for ABS officers. A strategy for increasing the coordination of, and capacity for, delivering statistical training to external clients and partners is being developed to support statistical leadership goals (more information on the National Statistical Training Institute can be found in, Chapter 9, Engagement with users and producers of statistics).
OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY
The ABS is committed to providing and maintaining a safe and healthy workplace and meeting its responsibilities under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1991 (OH&S Act) and the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (SRC Act). The ABS continues to honour its commitments under the ABS Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) Policy and Agreement. This provides a framework for OH&S in the ABS and, under a statement of commitment with Comcare, aims to significantly improve OH&S outcomes by 2012.
A dedicated section in the ABS central office, complemented by representatives in all regional offices, ensures the requirements of the OH&S Act and the SRC Act are met. A network of OH&S committees is the vehicle for consultation on OH&S issues affecting employees. Following recent changes to the OH&S Act, the ABS has developed, and is about to consult with employees on, revised Health and Safety Management Arrangements, which are scheduled for implementation in late 2008.
During 2007–08, 62 employees were selected or elected as Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) under the OH&S Act, with 24 receiving training during the year. There were 10 notifiable accidents/dangerous occurrences reported by the ABS, to Comcare in 2007–08. Notifiable accidents/dangerous occurrences may or may not be investigated by Comcare (see below).
During 2007–08, no Comcare OH&S investigations were undertaken in the ABS and no Provisional Improvement Notices, Improvement Notices or Prohibition Notices were issued.
WORKPLACE INJURIES AND ILLNESS
The ABS continued to invest in a risk management approach to the prevention of work-related illness and injuries. Key features of this approach included:
A comparison of workers’ compensation claims for the periods 2003–04 to 2007–08 is detailed in table 18.6.
Table 18.6: ABS Premium Group Claims Incidence (number)
(a) The increased incidence of claims in 2006–07 is largely due to 113 claims resulting from the 2006 Census enumeration.
The Australian Statistician, Brian Pink, and members of the ABS Executive help to raise $4,205.25 for Breast Cancer Awareness in October 2007.
The ABS implements early intervention and rehabilitation in both compensable and non-compensable cases. Training for five ABS rehabilitation case managers and OH&S Coordinators was provided during the year, to enhance ABS rehabilitation performance. Training for managers has been improved through the upgrading of OH&S modules of ABS management courses.
Comcare provided notification that the ABS’ premium rate for 2008–09 has been set at 1.42% of total salary (including GST). The details of the ABS and the agency pool average premium rates are contained in Table 18.7.
Table 18.7: Comcare workers’ compensation premium rate (% of wage and salary expenditure)
Measures taken to ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees during 2007–08 included: